Nigeria and Singapore sign investment pact

By Mercy Chukwudiebere, Lagos

Singaporean Minister of Trade and Industry Shabir Iswara ( R) and Nigeria’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah (L) in Abuja

Nigeria and Singapore have signed the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA)’ a landmark investment guarantee pact.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah signed on behalf of the Nigerian government while the Singaporean Minister of Trade and Industry, Shabir Iswara signed for his country.

The IPPA endorsed by Mr Iswara in Abuja, essentially aims to among other things, ensure fair and equitable treatment for investors; compensation for losses arising from strife and expropriation; and settlement of investment disputes under internationally accepted rules.

Although, trade relations currently exist between both countries, especially in commodities like soya beans, sesame seeds, groundnuts, cashew nuts, cocoa and some precious stones, the governments stressed the need to expand and strengthen their ties.

Move to improve economy
At the signing ceremony, Dr Enelamah said: “We have come to the conclusion that we need to do more than selling of our commodities in their raw state. We need to go into value addition before exporting. This we believe will lead to job creation and better value for our exports, as well as improve our economy.
“To achieve this, steps have to be taken to attract investment into Nigeria and to ensure that the investments are protected. The signing of the Nigeria-Singapore IPPA therefore, I hope will give you additional assurance that when you invest in Nigeria, your investments will be adequately protected…The government of President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to ensuring security and good governance in Nigeria as part of the ingredients for economic growth and stability.”

A functional Bilateral Agreement between Nigeria and Singapore, the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) for Cargo Services, which commenced in 2012 exists between both parties.

The minister said once ratified and put into effect, the IPPA would serve to build a better and more sustainable business and investment relationship between the two countries.

“As part of plans to diversify government’s sources of revenue, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment is taking a number of measures including the implementation of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan; improving our business climate to make it easy to do business in the country; building infrastructure; promoting micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) for inclusive growth and trade facilitation for exports among others,” he explained.

Already, President Muhammadu Buhari has set up the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), of which the Vice-President Professor Yemi Osibajo is the Chairman and Dr. Enelamah Vice-chairman.

PEBEC is charged with the responsibility of reducing the cost of doing business in Nigeria; and removing the impediments that are affecting the smooth operation of business.

Some of the constraints identified and currently being resolved include entry and exit processes; lowering the cost of business registrations and reducing time and simplifying the procedures for registration.

Others are enhancing and expanding trade across borders; reviewing and simplifying land and property registration procedures; simplifying and facilitating access to capital; facilitating the transparency and digitalisation of operations of government agencies.