The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma, has urged China to reduce the five per cent tariff placed on Nigeria’s agricultural exports to that country.
Udoma said this at the 6th Session of the Economic Trade and Technical Cooperation Joint Commission held between Nigeria and China on Monday in Abuja.
According to him, the reduction will help narrow the trade imbalance between the two countries and encourage the export of agricultural products from Nigeria to China.
“There is therefore a need for mutual efforts to bridge the trade imbalance between the two countries.
“I am pleased to inform you that the Nigerian private sector is gearing up to participate in business opportunities in China and to tap on the current efforts of government to increase exports to China so as to bridge the current trade imbalance.
“In this regard, I wish to call on the Chinese Government to reduce the tariff on agriculture exports from Nigeria, which currently stands at five per cent.
“A reduction in tariffs will contribute to narrowing the trade imbalance between the two countries as it would encourage more exports to China from Nigeria.
“The current trade between the two countries averaged 5.9billion US dollars in the last five years.’’
Udoma explained that the session came on the heels of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to China, which stood as a landmark event in the annals of the bilateral relationship between the two countries.
He said the visit resulted in the two countries signing six cooperation agreements.
He recalled that the fifth joint commission session, which took place in Beijing, centered on a number of investment areas and financial aid among which was a 2.5 billion dollars loan extended to Nigeria.
He said, “500million dollars of this was on concessionary basis, an oil block concession was granted to the Chinese Government and a banking cooperation agreement.’’
The minister said the volume of trade between the two countries rose from 6.37 billion dollars in 2009 to 14.94 billion dollars in 2015 due to China’s increased investment in a number of sectors.
Udoma said the 6th Session aimed at further strengthening the bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
“Accordingly, Exchange of Notes on feasibility study for three projects, Second Phase of Solar Powered Traffic Control Signal, Abuja, Agriculture Demonstration Centre and 2016 Bilateral Training Programmes will be signed,’’ he said.
He reiterated that the sixth Ministerial Conference of the Forum of China-African Cooperation (FOCAC) in Dec. 2015 had a positive impact on the relationship between both countries.
According to him, the conference identified industrialisation, agricultural modernisation, infrastructure development, financial cooperation, trade and investment facilitation and green development as critical areas of cooperation.
He listed others as poverty reduction, public health, cultural and people-to-people exchange as well as peace and security.
“The Nigerian Government is currently working to finalise a shortlist of projects, which will be discussed during the FOCAC coordination meeting in Beijing later this month.
“In this connection, Nigeria will in particular, solicit assistance for the completion of the Abuja Light Rail Project and Greater Abuja Water Work Project.”
The minister emphasised the Federal Government’s commitment towards improving the quality of governance by tackling corruption.
Udoma expressed Nigeria’s interest in expanding the scope of the existing cooperation while thanking the Chinese government for the support being rendered to Nigeria
Udoma also pledged Nigeria’s commitment towards the implementation of the Nigeria-China Friendship Cultural Centre project.
Also speaking, Mr Qian Keming, Vice Minister of Commerce of the Peoples, Republic of China, applauded the Nigerian government’s efforts at stamping out corruption and insurgency as well as improving the socio-economic life of its people.
Keming said: “This gives us further confidence in strengthening cooperation with Nigeria in moving forward.
“This session is significant to implement the outcomes of the state visit and concession visit between the two leaders and further promote the trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.’’
He said Nigeria had become China’s largest investment destination and its largest project market in Africa.
“The investments made by china’s enterprises in Nigeria in various sectors have exceeded 13 billion dollars and the accumulation of projects completed has exceeded 33 billion dollars.
“The tie has led to oil development, industrial construction, transport, ICT, financial services and aero-space development in Nigeria.’’
The vice minister said the Chinese government was willing to deepen trade and economic cooperation with Nigeria