By James Emejo in Abuja
The Egyptian Ambassador-designate to Nigeria, Mr. Assem Hanafi, has expressed concern over the low trade volume between his country and Nigeria, calling for aggressively measures to improve the situation.
He expressed his country’s willingness to increase the volume and value of trade with Nigeria, adding that there was the need to explore huge potential in both countries.
Speaking in Abuja during a courtesy visit to the President of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce Mr. Tony Ejinkeonye, he blamed the problem of low trade volume between both countries on the culture and tradition of African countries in not importing from within Africa but from Europe and America.
Hanafi, however, said: “My target is to see ways and means to boost trade and investment between Nigeria and Egypt, two biggest countries in Africa with huge potentials and population.
“The volume of trade between Nigeria and Egypt is not very big and this is another sad story of intra African trade relations. That is why I am here to promote our trade relations.”
He said: “The intra African trade only constitutes 15 per cent of the overall African trade with outside. So we are eager to multiply the current volume which approximately is $100 million plus, it not something really reflecting the potential of the markets of both countries.
He said: “So we need to see the comparative advantage which African countries can offer to one another and to fill this gap. Once we succeed I think it will encourage others countries to follow suit though it may take time, we have a long way to go but it will yield the desired fruits.”
He said both countries has had excellent political relations, sports and culture but economic relations needed further boost.
He said Egypt was considering exportation of light vehicles, medical supplies, manufacturing products to Nigeria, adding that there currently exist market for Nigerian products such as ginger sugarcane and other agricultural products.
Nevertheless, Ejinkeonye said the chamber was looking to increase economic activities between the two countries.
He said: “Egypt and Nigeria are two economic giants in Africa, so we believe that if the two countries work together they can leverage on their enormous potentials to grow the economy.
“Egypt is a power house in Africa so also Nigeria. We look at the trade volume and how to increase it as well as boosting the economic relations.
“What we just arrived at is to engage more possibly in trade missions between the two countries.
“We have also invited them to our September trade fair; they also invited us to theirs which is aiming at strengthening the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) of both countries.”