Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
Nigeria and the United Kingdom (UK) have agreed to deepen trade policy cooperation in the interest of both countries, especially as the West African country heads into general elections in February, 2023.
Both countries agreed that their economic partnership should support Nigerian and British businesses, create jobs for women and youth and secure greater investments in both directions.
These formed part of the communique issued at the end of the eighth Economic Development Forum (EDF), in Abuja.
The meeting was attended by Nigeria’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo and UK’s Trade Envoy, among others.
The communique which was released by the British High Commission, Abuja stated that both countries agreed that their economic partnership should support Nigerian and British businesses, create jobs for women and youth and secure greater investments in both directions.
As the EDF Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) comes to a close in 2023, the UK and Nigeria agreed to transition the EDF structure towards a potential Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership agreement, under which both sides would continue to work together to resolve market access issues and enhance economic cooperation.
The UK launched its new Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS) in August, 2022.
Nigeria noted that it would automatically benefit from enhanced preferences under the DCTS, given that 99 per cent of current goods exports amounting to £1.6 billion per year would be eligible for duty-free, quota-free access to the UK.
Nigeria also acknowledged that new tariff reductions introduced by the DCTS could save hundreds of thousands of British Pounds annually, and that this was expected to grow in products such as cocoa and fertilisers, where it was targeting global export volumes of $1 billion and $2 billion respectively.
The UK would also support specific business sectors in Nigeria that may benefit from the DCTS, through a series of technical workshops in Lagos before March 2023, to understand and better take advantage of this new trading scheme.
The UK and Nigeria welcomed the continued work of the Manufacturing Africa programme, which has supported 15 firms since the start of 2021, with the raising of anticipated foreign direct investment (FDI) of $340 million and the potential to create 6,300 direct jobs.
It is leading the way on Green Manufacturing. Growth Gateway, a UK government business service supporting trade and investment between the UK and Africa, also assisted over 35 Nigerian companies with queries in 2022.
Both sides agreed on the continued importance of increasing tech and digital sector links. Nigeria welcomed support provided through the UK-Nigeria Tech Hub, and through the Digital Access Programme (DAP) which will continue to provide technical assistance and capacity building in Nigeria for digital skills, cybersecurity and local digital economies.
The UK recently presented a DAP-funded study on improving the digital regulatory environment in Nigeria through streamlining regulation. Nigeria has begun implementing the Start-Up Act, which has been legislated to create an enabling regulatory environment to support successful start-ups.
Nigeria and the UK noted the benefits of the UK’s deep capital markets for Nigerian tech companies seeking investment, as well as the advantages of establishing in the UK for tech start-ups looking to expand internationally.
Both sides welcomed the continued work of the Finance and Financial Services technical working group. As agreed at EDF7, Nigeria has expanded the membership of the working group to include more Nigerian fintech organisations.
According to the communique, Nigeria presented an update on the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) at the Eight EDF, adding that a partnership agreement had been executed between the National Action Committee on AfCFTA (NAC) and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), with Jumia as a technical partner.
“They are currently onboarding 10,000 SMEs in the cities of Kano, Lagos and Aba; these SMEs will have access to inter-Africa e-commerce/trading opportunities.
“The AfCFTA strategy has also been developed and will go for final validation on December 7th, 2022. The UK agreed to look for continued ways to work with Nigeria to effectively implement the AfCFTA.
“So far, the UK has supported Nigeria’s AfCFTA objectives by building the capacity of Nigerian government institutions to engage in trade negotiations and developing a framework for Nigeria’s AfCFTA National Action Committee to monitor AfCFTA implementation.
“The UK is further supporting AfCFTA implementation in Nigeria through technical assistance to develop regional automotives value chains, and to support Nigerian services firms to benefit from the new trade opportunities that AfCFTA will deliver,” the communique added.