By Temitope Ponle
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that India and Nigeria need to scale up the involvement of their private sectors to expand economic relations between the two countries
Osinbajo made this known at the opening of the India-Nigeria Joint Business Forum in Abuja on Tuesday.
He recalled that the trade volume between both countries stood at 17 billion dollars in 2015 adding that there was the need to explore new opportunities to enhance growth and sustainable development.
The Vice President said that the forum would be an opportunity to explore various areas of cooperation.
“It is, therefore, quite gratifying that the volume of trade between our two countries has reached somewhere in the order of 17 billion dollars as of 2015 which is a significant increase form about six billion dollars less than 10 years ago.
“In addition, the rise of India as a significant source or investment in Nigeria makes a compelling case for expanding such flows into other areas.
“We should in this regard scale up the involvement of the private sector of our two countries in enhancing growth and sustainable development.”
Some of the areas he envisage fruitful collaboration were information and communications technology, agriculture and agro allied businesses; health matters including investments in the Nigerian health services sector;.
The others were energy especially oil and gas, renewable energy including solar power; services, education, capacity building and entrepreneurship, and science and technology.
“I am confident that the two sides will also use this opportunity to work out any outstanding business issues relating to bilateral trade and investments including access to agreed credit lines.”
He further reiterated the resolve of the Federal Government to strengthen the country’s economy and create a conducive business environment to enhance the ease of doing business.
“While the Nigeria economy is now facing challenges of a structural nature, we are fully confident that we shall return to positive growth very soon.
“This is because the Nigerian government has responded to the situation by adopting policies to boost economic activities and to lay a foundation for long-term growth.
“Our vision is anchored on a paradigm shift in governance towards transparency and accountability and making it easier to do business as we diversify the economy.
“We would also be replicating the skill, scale and speed of infrastructure development and focusing especially on power, roads and rail.
“This business gathering is also coming at a time that Nigeria is pursuing reforms in the oil and gas sector while undertaking major social investments to tackle poverty, equality, and promoting social inclusion.
“We expect that these policies will in turn support the private sector and greater domestic and foreign investment,” he said.
He also called on both countries to “move speedily” to facilitate people-to-people relations through strengthening cultural ties.
Osinbajo also urged both countries to utilise the Bilateral Air Services Agreement between them to promote greater connectivity and make import and export easier.
In his address, Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari, commended the Federal Government’s initiatives in strengthening the economy.
Ansari reiterated his government’s commitment to partner with Nigeria in the realisation of economic prosperity.
He noted that both countries had the potential to diversify their relations and enhance cooperation.
The Indian vice president stressed the need for both countries to synergise in the areas of business and economy to expand their relations.
“Indian investments are in diverse sectors such as communications, power, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, automotive sector and oil, among others.
“We need to synergise our efforts in the areas of economy and business; the vast consumer market, youthful and skilled human resources and expertise in the field of information technology of India coupled with Nigeria’s natural resources, youthful population and strategic location would provide a platform for enhanced economic engagement.
“As both India and Nigeria make an attempt to broad base their economy, they should harness the complementarities in attracting investments which is a key factor for a positive economic growth.
“There is a considerable potential for expanding trade in the areas of automotive components, automobiles, engineering products, IT, pharmaceuticals, bio-technology and healthcare sectors.
“Infrastructure development and energy security are key areas for cooperation for emerging economies like India and Nigeria.
“These sectors allow for both our countries to collaborate and benefit from each other’s expertise.
Ansari also urged both countries to take advantage of the agricultural potential they shared to boost opportunities for trade and investment and promote value addition to various produce.
“The Green Alternative Plan – a roadmap to make Nigeria not only self-sufficient in agriculture but also a major exporter of quality agricultural products, launched last month offers an opportunity for sharing of India’s experience in agro-industry sector,” he said.
Businessmen from different sectors in both countries were represented at the forum.(NAN)