FG Lobbies Iran for WTO Vote, Strengthens Bilateral Agreements

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

James Emejo in Abuja
The federal government has solicited the support of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s vote for Nigeria’s candidate for the position of the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela ahead of the forth-coming election.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Adeniyi Adebayo, disclosed this when the Iranian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Mohammed Alibak, paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja.

He said Nigeria would rely on Iran’s support for the election of Okonjo-Iwela as the next DG for WTO, stressing that if elected it would be the first time an African will occupy the position since its establishment on January 1, 1995.

He, however, noted that the Bilateral Trade Agreements (BTA) earlier signed between both countries in 2001, Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) in 2008, the establishment of Nigeria-Iran Joint Commission in 2004 and Iran Chamber, Industry, Mines and Agriculture in 2016 should be sustained.

The minister further assured the Iranian envoy of his commitment to ensuring that the agreements were renewed.
He said: “I assured you that my team is in the process of renewing these commitments and I will explore you to get your team to work with ours to appraise the current situation of these agreements and kick-start efforts toward renewal and implementation of our mutually beneficial commitments.”

He also called on Iranian investors to come to invest in the numerous Export Processing Zones (EPZs) in the country in view of the various incentives available to investors as well as pursue partnerships in the economic development initiatives in sectors including fertilizer production, tractor assembly, persian rug manufacturing, mines and steel industries and garment production.

Adebayo further assured the ambassador that Nigeria would work with Iran to improve on the current low trade volumes as both countries had great potential they could leverage on considering that both are oil dependent economies.

He said: “We can also share knowledge and best practices on economic diversification and our national development goals as Buhari’s led Administration is pushing to diversify the economy into the non-oil sector through various initiatives and a strategic partnership in the industrialisation of key sectors that can boost efforts towards export of Iran and Nigeria.”

Earlier, Alibak said Iran was willing to help Nigeria in the areas of technology development, water supply and engineering among others, adding that an invitation will be sent to the minister to visit the agricultural industrial machinery show in Iran.
He also stressed on the need to have a joint commission between the two countries as Nigeria is currently a dominant force in Africa in terms of trading with Iran.