- Trade volume around $3bn
By Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Italian Ambassador to Nigeria, Fulvio Rustic, has described Nigeria as a major strategic partner for development that his country cherishes and would do everything it takes to sustain and improve.
The ambassador made the disclosure at the weekend in Abuja during the marking of the 70th Anniversary of Italy as a democratic nation.
Rustic who claimed there were over a hundred Italian companies doing business in Nigeria spanning over six decades also disclosed that the volume of trade between Nigeria and Italy in the last one year was roughly over $3 billion.
He said Italy was already devising the means of fully exploiting the potentials of Nigeria as well as the prevailing opportunities that the present administration presents. He also stated that plans are on going to showcase the opportunities in Italy to the government and people of Nigeria, adding that the two countries even though from different continents have a lot in common.
“We have really wonderful relations between the two countries, we don’t have any problems we only have positive relations. Italy wants Nigeria as a strategic partner in Africa, that was the reason our prime minister came to Nigeria 1st of February 2016. It was the first visit of an Italian prime minister to Nigeria; it was a great meeting as the two presidents had excellent discussions. Italian president has invited the president to Italy which he accepted.
“Economically speaking we are working on a visit of several ministers to Italy hopefully around November or early next year, depending on how fast we can go , to present Nigeria’s potentials to Italian industries. And afterwards organized a meeting of our economic ministers with over one hundred companies, to meet business to business and do more and more. so we want to find new ways to accelerate this relationship. We believe Nigeria’s potential is gigantic and Italy is one of the major industrial countries of the world. We must help the two sides to work together. This is the starting of a new process”, he said.
Adding that, “Nigeria is our second partner in sub-sahara African. We believe the potentials of Nigeria is very great that it will be our best partner. We know very well that Nigeria in a few months from now would reach one million people making it the third largest population after china and India.
The ambassador, who commended Nigeria in the success so far in defeating terrorism, disclosed that Italy having overcome terrorism in the seventies and eighties is willing to increase its assistance to Nigeria, in order for the nation to completely defeat the monster.
He noted that outside the economic and security front which there is high level of collaboration, the two countries in the coming months would further deepen their relations when Nigeria’s Minister of Justice plans to visit Italy for the signing of agreements on extradition and financial cooperation among others. Former Nigeria’s Ambassador to Austria and Under Secretary, Regional and International Organizations, Amb. Ayoko Adelakun, who represented the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Goeffrey Onyeama, congratulated the people of Italy on the occasion of their 70th Anniversary and commended Italy for his numerous achievements since she became a democratic nation in 1946.
Ayoko, disclosed that Italy started diplomatic relation with Nigeria in 1961 and since then has remained a dependable partner, that is contributing to the socio-economic development of Nigeria.
“The recent visit of the Prime Minister further confirms the close relations between the two countries”, Ayoko said, adding that “Establishing a cordial and sound bilateral relationship would continue to be our priority in order to usher in renew prosperity.