Abuja – The U.S. on Tuesday expressed determination to support efforts to make Nigeria’s companies more competitive in the global economy by giving them affordable access to financing options.
The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, Mr Charles Rivkin, gave the advice in Abuja at the first Nigeria-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC) and USA SMEs Financing Conference 2015.
The conference was organised by NACC, in collaboration with the Embassy of the U.S., Economic Affairs Section, Nigeria.
Rivkin also urged Nigeria to focus on the development of its Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sub-sector, stressing that “SMEs are the backbone of both our economies”.
He advised Nigeria to create a business friendly environment that welcomed outside investment, safeguards intellectual property rights, and did not rely on trade barriers.
“U.S. companies want to invest in Nigeria and its people, if there are investor-friendly policies and reforms that would make Nigeria an attractive place to do business.
“The U.S. sees Nigeria as one of our most important partners in Africa. It has Africa’s biggest population and its largest economy.
“We look to Nigeria not only as a friend and ally but also as a leader that can be Africa’s biggest engine of growth over the coming decades,” he said.
According to him, U.S. through President Obama’s Power Africa and Trade Africa initiatives and other programmes, was helping to address energy challenges and reduce barriers to trade and investment.
He said America had, through the scheme, embarked on building capacity and promoting entrepreneurship to create jobs and opportunity.
He said Nigeria had much more to offer the world than oil and gas, adding that U.S. was ready to invest in Nigeria if the environment was conducive.
“We fully support President Mohammadu Buhari’s commitment to fighting corruption, which will go a long way toward making Nigeria a more attractive place to invest.
“Nigeria is capable of competing in the global marketplace, but its industries won’t be able to compete if they continue to rely on import bans and high tariffs to survive,” he said.
The Chairman of Nigeria-American Chamber of Commerce, Kaduna Chapter, Alhaji Sheriff Balogun, said the importance of SME subsector could not be over emphasised as it catered for over 90 per cent of jobs in Nigeria.
He said the need to define and take SME lending seriously was crucial to the development and growth of a nation’s economy.
He called on the participants to key into the presentation sessions, where investment opportunities would be proffered by leading ministries and agencies’ entrepreneur and speakers. (NAN)