Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole, has called on Nigeria and Britain to discuss modalities for strengthening trade relations between the two countries.
Bankole, who was earlier announced as the new voluntary Honorary Vice President of Africa House and the Africa for Growth Initiative, made this call recently at the United Kingdom Houses of Parliament, where he addressed VIPs from the world of politics and commerce including Lord Oates, Chief of Staff to former UK Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg and Andrew Boff, Chairman of Africa House, a social enterprise initiative that brings high end UK investors to Nigeria, said the time to renew the trade relations between the two countries is now.
He challenged Britain to use its recent Brexit decision as a spur to build stronger, reciprocal trading relations with Africa, especially Nigeria.
The former speaker noted that Nigeria’s trading relationship with the EU, including the UK, was not always straightforward and not always in Nigeria’s favour, stating that “our trade relations with the EU are far from easy at the moment.
“We currently benefit from duty free access to the EU Single Market for goods, guaranteed under the regional Lomé convention. But the EU – and I should stress this has included the UK – has sought to replace this trade deal with a somewhat less favourable successor agreement, the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)”.
He argued that with the Nigerian government delaying to agree on the terms of this EPA, Nigeria could well find itself in the same boat as post-Brexit UK; losing trade preferences to the EU market altogether.
According to him, “there are strong, pragmatic reasons indeed, for both Nigeria and the UK, to start discussing a new, post-Brexit trade deal between our countries.
“The UK is a leading investor and trade partner of Nigeria. Many British companies are already operating in Nigeria, in banking, telecoms and technology, consumer goods, and of course in the energy sector. We have a language in common as well as other cultural features. There is a large community of Nigerians in the UK”.
The former speaker used the occasion at the seat of the UK Government as a rallying cry for positive trading engagement, as he told the British counterparts, that Britain seems “trapped in a starry-eyed, romantic conception of how bilateral trade deals come about” and scolding those in the British establishment who see future trade negotiations through a “pink cloud of nostalgia, reminiscing over a common heritage going back for centuries”
Bankole was earlier announced as the new voluntary Honorary Vice President of Africa House and the Africa for Growth Initiative. The UK Government backed project uses a cutting edge online trading and collaboration platform, which enables users to benefit from bilateral trade and investment between the UK and Africa and gain accessibility to unique trade opportunities in both countries.
The former Speaker was touched to receive this accolade and stressed that he looked forward to exploring how he can use his experience to build long term trade and investment in Nigeria that benefits Nigerians, their present and their future.