Alex Enumah in Abuja
Trade relations between Nigeria and China dropped last year with Nigeria losing her position as the second largest trading partner with China.
According to the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian, trade relations between the two countries nosedived from about $15bn in 2015 to about to about $3.1bn in 2016; resulting to Nigeria’s drop from her second position to fourth as trade partners.
Pingjian disclosed this during a visit of the House of Representatives Committee on Nigeria-China Relations to the Headquarters of CGCOC a Chinese private company, in Abuja.
“Nigeria-China trade is declining fast. Nigeria used to be China’s number two trade partner in Africa, but it’s now number four”, the envoy stated.
He however expressed confidence that the situation can be improved upon with focus and implementation of policy agreements reached by the two countries and commended Nigeria for supporting the ‘One China Policy’. “We need to follow up on the outcomes of the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation summit and President Muhammad Buhari’s state visit to China in April last year”, he said.
The ambassador disclosed that one of the fall-outs of the president’s visit was the construction of the Agricultural Training Centre in Bwari, Abuja by CGCOC to assist Nigeria’s diversification efforts.
Pingjian said with over $139tn Foreign Direct Investment, China is interested and ready to expand investment in Nigeria and urged the government to create enabling environment for investors to come in.
“As Chinese ambassador to Nigeria, I wish a small part of the $139bn could come to Nigeria”, he said, adding that as an ambassador he was willing to facilitate it.
Pingjian reiterated China’s commitment to Nigeria’s economic revival and as well as readiness to support the nation’s economic diversification efforts.
Similarly, CGCOC Group Managing Director, Ye Shuijin who called for improved security in the country, noted that Chinese firms in Nigeria were ready to make greater contribution to the socio-economic development of the country.
Shuijin, who also doubled as Chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce in Nigeria expressed the need for the establishment of a Strategic Master Plan by Nigeria and China to fast track industrialisation of the country.
“We have more than 20 industrial zones in Nigeria, we have funds abroad that can be brought into Nigeria for investment but it has to be strategically done”, he said.
The MD disclosed that in 2008 CGCOC ventured into mechanised farming in Wara, Kebbi State and today the company is one of the leading producers of rice accounting for about 50 per cent of rice production in Nigeria.
Earlier, committee Chairman, Yusuf Buba Yakub, disclosed that the purpose of the visit was to see how relations between Nigeria and China can be improved upon. According to him, “The dream is to come up with Chinese made in Nigeria products”.