By Ossom Raphael
Abuja – All is now set for the hosting of a high level policy private sector Trade and Investment Facilitation Forum with key partners such as the Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS), and the United Nation’s Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, the Minister of Industry Trade and Investment, at a press conference on Tuesday in Abuja, revealed that major world economies and over 30 African countries will converge on Abuja on 2nd and 3rd November, 2017, for Trade and Investment Facilitation Partnership Forum
Enelamah said the forum will centre on competitive investment strategy and attracting better business friendly environment, as well as boost Nigeria’s Foreign Direct Investment through matchmaking regional, continental and global businesses.
The Forum, to be co-hosted by Nigeria and the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) in partnership with the WTO Friends of Investment Facilitation for Development (FIFD), will draw members from Argentina, China, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Hong Kong China, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, Canada, the European Union, Qatar
“This event is a significant step in the drive toward facilitating trade and investment not only for Nigeria, but sub-regionally and on the African Continent.
“Nigerian and African economies need to be connected, integrated and diversified and facilitating investment and trade will be key to achieving these objectives.
Recall the United Nation Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) forecasted that developing countries will need an additional $2.5 trillion annually in foreign and domestic investment to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“The World Bank estimates that Africa’s total infrastructure investment requirements at roughly $120-150 billion per annum and estimates the gap between infrastructure investment requirements and available financial resources at about $60-80 billion per annum.
“The case for trade and investment facilitation can therefore, not be overemphasized. I reiterate that this government is committed to investment facilitation, by creating a more investment friendly business climate and making it easier for both domestic and foreign investors to invest,” Enelemah noted.
Mr Kolawole Sofola, Principal Programme Officer, Multilateral Trade Directorate of Trade, ECOWAS, said Nigeria had made lot of progress in trading, adding that it was a privilege to have Nigeria among the facilitation partnership forum.
According to Sofola “Nigeria contributes more than half of ECOWAS gross domestic product and we know that trade facilitation enables free movement of trade among member countries,’’.
Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, is expected to declare the forum open. Other dignitaries such as the WTO DG Roberto Azevedo; Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Mukhisa Kituyi, African Union (AU) Commissioner for Trade and Industry Albert Muchanga, Executive Director of the International Trade Center (ITC) Arancha Gonzalez, CEO of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President of ECOWAS Commission Marcel Alain de Souza, are expected to be in attendance.