Nigeria, Benin Republic Strengthen Diplomatic, Economic Ties 

* Propose strengthening of Customs union, personnel exchange by apex banks

Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja 

Nigeria and Benin Republic have begun high-level meetings to strengthen diplomatic and economic relations, with a proposal for the West African neighbours to enhance bilateral trade between them and implement measures in other areas relating to trade harmonisation.

In a statement, the Federal Ministry of Finance said the development was disclosed during a post-mortem meeting by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, after the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Mr. Wale Edun, returned from leading Nigeria’s delegation to the neighbouring country for a high-level meeting on boosting bilateral trade relations.

The statement, which was issued by the 

Head, Press and Public Relations in the finance ministry, Helen Oby Chukwu, disclosed that while in Benin Republic, the host President, Patrice Talon, granted a brief audience to the Nigerian delegation where he urged the ministers from both countries to give the bilateral meeting the desired impetus already established by himself and his Nigerian counterpart, President Bola Tinubu.

“During the high-level meeting, the Beninois government made presentations on enhancing the bilateral trade between Nigeria and the Benin Republic and their position regarding implementing measures in other areas relating to trade harmonisation. 

“Some of the key issues in the proposal were the strategies for strengthening the Customs Union between the two countries, establishing a relationship of trust through collaboration, joint training and personnel exchanges between the respective Central Banks, and most importantly, deepening the legal framework applicable to facilitate debt recovery. 

“To achieve these frameworks, the Beninois side proposed the creation of a permanent joint technical committee with extended powers that will seek the implementation of ministerial consultations on the enforcement of the bilateral agreement, political anchoring and establishment of a clear and transparent governance structure among other channels of implementation,” the statement said. 

It revealed that after the presentation, Benin’s Minister of Finance and the Economy, Mr. Romuald Wadagni, reiterated the significance of embodying the firm resolve of the two countries’ presidents in ensuring the strengthening of trade relations.

He added that setting up a technical committee would serve as a one-stop shop for handling joint issues related to Nigeria and the Republic of Benin.

In his response, Edun appreciated the Beninoise government for the audience and hosting of the meeting. 

He equally appreciated President Talon’s moral support and enthusiasm, adding that the political will demonstrated so far was beyond question. 

He further stated that the task at hand was to seek efficient means of implementing the ideas of the leaders of both countries.

The minister, therefore, proposed that the  finance ministers of Nigeria and Benin head the proposed permanent committee.

The Nigerian delegation also consisted of the Charge d’ Affaires a.i, Nigerian Embassy in Cotonou, Ambassador Saidu N. Tiggi, and the Comptroller of Customs, Seme Command. 

On the Beninoise side were the host Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Shegun Adjadi Bakari; the Minister of Trade and Commerce, Ms. Assouman Shadiya; the Minister of Justice and Legislation, and the Beninoise Director General of Customs.

Nigeria continues to strengthen its cultural, trade and economic relations with the Republic of Benin, especially in customs border patrols, financial integration of payment systems between the two countries and the harmonisation of regulations along the borders.

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