- Says $145bn trade remains untapped
Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Islamabad
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Mr. Syed Tariq Fatemi, has said the diplomatic relationship between his country and Nigeria has moved from commercial/economic to defence cooperation.
Fatemi said the recent purchase of a Pakistani made trainer aircraft by the Nigerian government was a huge breakthrough and strong message of confidence in the fast growing cooperation between the two developing countries.
Fatemi who stated this while speaking with THISDAY in Islamabad, Pakistan, yesterday said Pakistan and Nigeria had enjoyed robust diplomatic relations for decades, stressing that his country would continue to support Nigeria in all areas, especially in the defence sector.
The Pakistan Foreign Affairs Minister revealed that over 20 Memorandum of a Understanding (MoU) between Pakistan and Nigeria were lying inactive, disclosing that the volume of trade between the two countries stood at a dismal $55million, a far cry from over $145 billion worth of trade potential.
The minister ascribed some of the reasons for the low trade volume to both countries to being consumer-countries–with little or nothing to sell to each other; lack of shipping lines – which directly affects freight cost; electricity challenges and the lingering acts of terrorism in both countries.
“Since the coming to power of this present Pakistan administration in 2013, we have focused on strengthening the economy – with special emphasis on overcoming the crippling energy shortages. We are confident that before the next election in May 2018, we should be able to overcome the energy crisis, which would translate to help the factories to run and encourage a greater potential of export outside Pakistan,’’ the minister said.
He called on both countries to take the MoUs seriously and see to their implementation, saying that trade between Pakistan and Nigeria will only be commensurate with the relations when bilateral trades are further improved.
He added: “As I stated, the political will is already there, which is the foremost requirement; your president has visited Pakistan; our president has visited Nigeria; We have had trade delegations; we have had defence ministers, trade ministers visiting each other, and you are here. But much more things need to be done.
“The distances are very clear: there are no shipping lines; there is no air link between the two countries; I am sure you came through Istanbul. With industrial growth in Pakistan, the economy getting better; we are focusing in all sectors; we are trying to strengthening our airlines, we are trying to establish a shipping company. That shipping company will focus on those countries we have cooperation, with so that trade can expand.
“Right now, defence is a very good field; culture is a very good filed; education is another field; some of your students come here to study; our boys and girls can also go and study in Nigeria. We can also offer scholarship to Nigerians in our defence academy.’’
He said while Nigeria today is far more stable and more peaceful, the trade factors would remain limited because of a few difficulties – long distance and lack of transportation link between the two countries.