Nigeria and France have agreed to double trade flows between both countries from the current N1.049tn to about N2.098tn in the next four years. This was agreed during the inauguration of the Nigeria/France Trade and Investment Council last weekend in Abuja.
The council is being co-chaired by the vice-chairman of the Nigeria-France Chamber of Commerce and chief executive officer, Leadway Assurance Company Limited, Mr. Oye Hassan-Odukale; and the chief executive officer and chairman of PAI, Mr. Lionel Zinsou.
The agreement between both countries was signed in the presence of President Goodluck Jonathan and his French counterpart, Francois Hollande, during the Nigeria-France Business Forum held on the sidelines of the Nigerian Centenary celebrations.
The council also has the mandate of increasing investment flows between both countries by 50% in the coming four years.
President Jonathan and his French counterpart also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on a $170 million power financing deal between the two countries, and another for the construction of a 13-megawatt solar power plant between the Osun state government and Vergnet Groupe.
Speaking, Jonathan encouraged French companies to invest in Nigeria in order to benefit from the collaboration. “Nigeria has come of age economically and this is the time to invest. We have made significant progress in our political, social and economic development.
“I always say that Nigeria’s economic transformation will be the strongest legacy of our generation, which is why we have invited all you investors here today. A strong Nigerian economy will create wealth, improve living standards and ensure a stable political and social environment.
“This is why my focus, since this administration assumed office in 2011, has been to fundamentally restructure and diversify the Nigerian economy to ensure sustained growth and create jobs for our teeming youths,” Jonathan said
Hollande said France has set a goal of increasing its market share in Nigeria. “Three of our companies contribute about 15,000 jobs in Nigeria but we have to invest more in the country.
We must step up our efforts in the area of training by our companies for Nigerian employees and increase investment because Nigeria is a great country,” he said Minister of industry, trade and investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, said the Nigerian consumer market was worth over $100 billion and growing fast as the purchasing power of the citizens continued to rise.
He informed that trade between Nigeria and France grew from N550bn in 2008 to well over N1trillion in 2012, one of the fastest growth rates seen with any Nigerian trading partners, the minister said.
“This is why the Nigeria-France business relationship is central to our economic agenda; and this is why we have organised this forum here today.”