Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Nigerian Ambassador to France, Ambassador Modupe Irele, has revealed that Nigeria is France’s biggest trading partner in the Sub-saharan Africa with over €4 billion trade volume in 2018.
Irele disclosed this at a press conference in Abuja on the ongoing Nigerian-France Business and Investment Forum, which she said was an initiative that began in Paris, France to promote business between the two countries.
She stressed that Nigeria established diplomatic relations with France on October 1, 1960 and already over 120 active businesses in Nigeria like Air France, CFAO, and Peugeot, among others.
According to her, “already we have businesses over €4 billion in bilateral trades between Nigeria and France in 2018 and Nigeria is France’s leading business partner in sub Saharan Africa. So, there is already a good relationship in terms of economy and trade between the two countries, but this needs to be taken further”
“What we had noted in France was that there are a lot of interest in Nigeria but it remained at interest, we wanted to bring them to Nigeria, to bring a few of the companies who had shown interest in Nigeria so that they can move from talk to action.”
Irele explained that the investment forum was made up of various sectors because all companies in all sectors must at some point or the other interact with various regulatory bodies, policy bodies and they also need to have good partners in the country
She said some of the French companies that are participating in the business forum were drawn from sectors like; petroleum sector, pharmaceutical sector, mechanical sector, electronics, ICT, agriculture, and medical, among others.
Irele emphasised that some of the French companies had been invited in order for to explore the opportunities in Nigeria and not exploit.
The ambassador explained that the objective of the forum include facilitating the ease of doing business in Nigeria for French companies and investors, through engagement with top economic policy makers and regulators in the country.
She said it also include providing a platform for interaction between prospective French investors and Nigeria’s high level economic policy makers, as well as business regulators.
Irele added that it would spotlight various business opportunities in various part of Nigeria and promote the country’s attractiveness as a major investment hub in Africa
She noted that the forum would also support federal government’s economic diversification policy and foreign direct investment drive.