Brazilian President, Ms. Dilma Rousseff
By Muhammed Bello
The volume of trade between Brazil and Nigeria grew exponentially last year reaching as high as $9 billion and is expected to hit the roof when further trade links spanning other sectors kick off with the expected establishment of a bi-national commission soon.
Brazilian President, Ms. Dilma Rousseff, who was on a day visit to Nigeria and arrived Nigeria’s seat of government at about 11:15 am, stated this Saturday at the close of a two-hour meeting between her delegation and that of Nigeria led by President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House, Abuja.
The Nigerian delegation included the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Olugbenga Asiru; Petroleum Minister, Dieazani Allison-Madueke; Education Minister, Prof. Ruqayyatu Rufa’i; Minister of Culture, Edem Duke; Agriculture Minister, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina; Trade and Investment Minister, Olusegun Aganga and Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy (CME), Dr. Ngozi-Okonjo-Iweala.
Their Brazilian counterparts consisted of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Antonio Patriota; Minister of Development, Fernando Piminez and Education Minister Aloizio Hercadante.
According to President Jonathan, with whom Dilma addressed a joint press conference before going for lunch, the two countries discussed many issues culminating in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will see to the establishment of the joint commission.
A communiqué signed by both leaders indicated that “exchange of visits by high ranking officials on the two countries need to be intensified,” while instructing “that the joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation between Nigeria and Brazil should convene the 7th meeting scheduled to hold in Abuja as soon as possible to follow up the outcomes of President Rousseff’s visit to Nigeria.”
Jonathan explained that the vice presidents of both countries will sit on the commission which will be coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, adding that the commission “will cover the area of agriculture and food security, petroleum, power, bio-fuel, trade and investment, mining, education,, aviation, infrastructure management, finance and culture.”
Rouseff, who had a red-carpet reception and 21-gun salute after which she inspected a guards of honour, corroborated her host emphasising that Brazil and Nigeria concurred that there is need to diversify their trade engagements with a view to having “a more balance trade,” particularly in the petroleum sector where “Petro Brass has been around and has conducted its operations in the country for the past 14 years.”
She added that her country will also want to also establish partnership covering hydro-electricity, “given Brazil’s experience in electricity and our expertise in building a wide range of transmission system.”
Pointing out “Nigerians and Brazilians are happy people,” Jonathan remarked that the purpose of the joint commission and partnership in the sectors enumerated by him are to boost the socio-economic wellbeing of citizens of both countries by providing them with employment and business opportunities.
“If these two countries are working together then the countries businessmen and women will work together to see how they will invest in both countries and improve the economy,” Jonathan said.
His words: “We know that Nigeria and Brazil have a lot of things in common. Geo-morphologists informed us that a long time before the continental drift, thousands years ago, the continent of South America and that of Africa had one , and that is the point of connection is actually where Nigeria and Brazil is today.
And also those who study the diversity of lands and animals, from their studies have shown that the kind of plants and animals that we have today were similar. Even in terms of human issues. Brazil soccer is almost like a legion. And Nigerians, you know we are very diverse people, different tribes. Different languages and different religions. One thing that brings all of us together is soccer. So we have quite a lot of things in common,” he added.
Recalling that both countries have been in close relationships for many years, he said: “Brazil and Nigeria have been doing very well even before myself and Madam President. Our past presidents - President Olusegun Obasanjo and Inacio Lula Da Silva worked very hard to make sure. You cannot just bring Nigeria and Brazil together, but we think we can bring the two continents together in what we call Africa and South-America Summit.”
He further added that: “We just had a meeting in Malabo yesterday (Friday). Two of us were there and we said the whole of South America and the whole of Nigeria have to come together to help our people that have similar historical antecedents. Luckily for us, you can’t talk about South America without Nigeria. And you can’t talk about Africa without Nigeria.”
The communiqué issued at the end of the meeting highlighted other critical areas that were deliberated upon as maintenance of peace and security in Africa and Latin America, political and security cooperation, resolution of the crises in Guinea-Bissau and Mali as well as economic, trade and investment cooperation.
Others are culture, media, and exchange of information “about Nigeria’s candidature for election as a non-permanent member of the UNSC for the period of 2014 - 2015.”
“They also exchanged information about ambassador Roberto Azevedo’s candidacy for the post of director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Both Presidents reiterated the importance of the multilateral trading system of trade. They agreed in principle to consider favourably the above candidatures, as well as other candidatures from both countries in the light of their excellent bilateral relationship,’ the communiqué noted.