By Temitope Ponle
Abuja – The Federal Government has called for value addition in the economic relations between Nigeria and China to address the trade imbalance between both countries.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, made the call at the 2018 Nigeria-China Production Capacity and Investment Cooperation Forum in Abuja on Friday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that available statistics obtained from National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) indicated that Nigeria had a trade deficit of more than N6 trillion with China between 2013 and 2016.
According to the NBS, the statistics also showed that out of Nigeria’s total import bill of N29 trillion between 2013 and 2016, China alone accounted for N6.41 trillion.
Mustapha, represented by Mr Gabriel Aduda, Permanent Secretary, Political and Economic Affairs, Office of the SGF, said that the Federal Government had overtime made several efforts to address the long-standing issue.
The SGF said that the forum was a platform to promote business-to-business interactions and to develop more concrete approaches to boost Nigeria’s industrialisation and reduce the export of its raw materials.
“China has done well for Nigeria in recent times but the trade imbalances are wrong, they are still in favour of China and we can have a better form of cooperation with China that will improve the imbalances.
“One of the very ways we can do that is to see that we grow up the value chain; no country ever grows by just exporting raw materials, we need to be able to add value.
“If you look at the contribution, it is still at the raw materials level where the Chinese come and take out our raw materials, go add value and bring back for us to buy.
“Now Nigeria is looking out for ways to cooperate with China to set up industries here in Nigeria that will add value to these raw materials so we can also begin to export to the world.”
He added that taking such steps would grow the nation’s economy.
In his address, Mr Yusuf Yakub, Chairman, House Committee on Nigeria-China Relations confirmed that China had demonstrated its willingness to support Nigeria’s industrialisation efforts.
Yusuf, however, said that there was need for China to consider Nigeria’s “practical challenges and peculiarities of its development and design strategic intervention assistance and support”.
“In this regard, we are gathered here to provide the platform for a robust China-Nigeria investment cooperation.
“Our duties as policy makers are to ensure that effective laws are in place to protect foreign investment and consolidate on the existing relationship of both nations.”
Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian said that Nigeria remained one of China’s biggest trading partners in Africa, adding that the relationship between them was mutually beneficial.
“China remains committed to stepping up its cooperation with Nigeria in agriculture, manufacturing, industrial capacity and investment, infrastructure, energy, culture and people-to-people exchanges, and other areas.”
Zhou said that initiatives by the Chinese Government such as the Belt and Road Initiative and the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation would bring new opportunities to strengthen Nigeria- China ties.