From Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari and Prime Minister Mark Rutte of Netherlands have agreed to work together to deepen trade volume, private investment and fight human trafficking among others.
Rutte is on a two-day working visit to Nigeria and is leading a trade delegation of eight Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Dutch multinationals currently operating in Nigeria with huge investment portfolios in the agriculture, finance, oil and gas sectors.
According to a statement signed by the Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the President, Femi Adesina, the two leaders reached the agreement on Tuesday when they both met in Abuja to discuss bilateral relations between Nigeria and the Netherlands.
A communiqué issued at the end of the meeting said the two leaders reviewed the progress that has been made with implementing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on improving the bilateral relations between the two nations concluded and signed by the respective Foreign Ministers in The Hague in July 2018.
‘‘We welcome the steps that have been made to increase bilateral economic cooperation and are happy to see higher levels of bilateral trade volumes as well as private sector investments, ’’ the communiqué signed by Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Netherlands, Oji Ngofa and the Deputy Head of Mission, Netherlands Embassy in Abuja, Ewout-Jan de Wit said.
‘‘The contribution of Dutch private businesses, both global players and small, micro and medium enterprises, to the Nigerian economy is duly noted.
‘‘Investments by the Netherlands Investment Bank FMO and the Dutch Good Growth Fund are contributing to better access to finance and energy for the private sector.
‘‘Nigeria confirms its commitment to continuing reforms for a conducive business and investment environment while the Netherlands pledges to continue assisting Nigeria for an increase in agricultural productivity especially horticulture, seed, and sustainable palm oil production,’’ it added.
President Buhari and Prime Minister Rutte also reiterated their commitment to the fight against human trafficking, appreciating the close collaboration between both countries in supporting the victims.
Noting with concern the challenging security situation in the West-African sub-region and Nigeria, The Netherlands acknowledged the sustained efforts of Nigeria in the fight against insurgency and in countering violent extremism.
‘‘The Netherlands will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need, in particular women and girls, in order to mitigate the impact of insecurity and displacement,’’ the communiqué said.
After the bilateral consultations between delegations of both countries, Buhari and Rutte witnessed the signing of the MoU on dairy chain development between Royal FrieslandCampina WAMCO and the Government of Niger State.
Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello and Mr Ben Langat, Managing Director, FrieslandCampina WAMCO Plc, signed the MoU. The agreement on dairy chain development is expected to save Nigeria about $1.2 billion from milk importation annually.
While speaking to State House correspondents, the Dutch Prime Minister, expressed delight to make his first visit to Nigeria.
“It is an honour to be here in Nigeria. It’s my first visit to Nigeria and like I said at the lunch meeting, I am very impressed. Everything in this country is huge, is big. It is 20 times the size of the Netherlands and more people live in Lagos than the whole of my country,” Rutte declared.
He added that from the discussions we had with the business leaders, it was very clear that despite the fact that there are so many differences, that the two countries have a lot to offer each other politically, economically or culturally.
“Politically, Nigeria has taken its responsibility as one of Africa’s most important countries by playing a leading role in the region and by this way expanding democracy in West Africa.I have deep respect for the way Nigeria is doing this including the leadership of the president.
“I also want to express my appreciation for Nigeria’s active role in promoting international law in the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Our countries, Nigeria and Netherlands share the belief that international law contributes to a fair and safer world.We are also working together on the issue on migration that is why the minister of migration is part of my delegation and my country is looking forward to continuing this excellent partnership,” he stressed.
He noted that one of the focuses of the visit is economic cooperation. He said both Nigeria and the Netherlands stand greatly to benefit from the economic cooperation, adding that there is room for trade expansion as the Netherlands is Nigeria’s third biggest trading partner and major a importer of Nigerian products.
On the humanitarian situation in the north east, he said:” We discussed at length the situations both in the Netherlands as well as in Nigeria and also what is happening in the different regions. And we try to be involved as much as possible. As we have this long standing relationship between our two countries, we have a very active embassy here, there is a very active ambassador in the European and the Dutch side and from the Nigeria, we can work together and we can deal with these issues.
For example we discussed in 2018 at length one issue, the Lake Chad question and we what we can do together. We hosted a meeting in the Netherlands this year on Lake Chad and what we can do in the immediate future. From the most treacherous issue, what can we do in the immediate future or use some of the Dutch expertise in terms of water, you know you have to call us if it is too much or not enough, if it is too clean or not too clean we can help you.”