Nigerian Ambassador to Russia, Prof. Abdullahi Yibaikwal, says enhanced trade and economic cooperation between Nigeria and Russia holds tremendous opportunity for international market penetration and economic growth.
Yibaikwal said this during the Russia- Nigeria Business Conference held in Moscow on Thursday, which was organised by Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) Russia and Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Yibaikwal was represented by Ms. Mercy Haruna, Minister Counselor Economic, Trade and Investment (ET&I) Embassy of Nigeria, Moscow.
He said Nigeria was an emerging economy, and the prospects for trade and economic cooperation between both countries through inflow and outflow of trade and investment were very bright.
The ambassador noted that Nigeria had the largest market in Africa, with a population of over 200 million, projected to grow to over 400 million by 2050.
According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration intends to establish strong economic ties with all countries to harness Nigeria’s human and natural resources.
Yibaikwal listed the priority areas of investment in Nigeria as agriculture, manufacturing, solid minerals, services, construction and real estate, and oil and gas.
“Nigeria has a huge market for Russian products, and we expect the economy to grow speedily with engagement of trade and investment between both countries,” he said.
He, however, noted that the trade volume between both countries was very low, at less than one billion dollars.
“Exploring trade activities between both countries would assist to shore up the figure.
“The economic initiative of President Buhari’s administration has created a platform for profitable trade and investment partnerships at the government to government level, and also business to business level.
“I strongly believe that opportunities like this and commitment of business leaders are essential to enhance trade relationship in Nigeria.
“Nigeria is ever ready and open for business with all potential investors,” he said.
Also, Mr Sergey Nosov, Director, Department for Asia, Africa and Latin America, Ministry of Industry and Trade, Russia, said areas of mutual cooperation must be created between both countries to enhance economic growth.
Nosov said Nigeria offered great opportunities for Russian exports, considering its tremendous economic growth, huge youthful population and mineral resources.
He noted that Russia would be a strategic partner to Nigeria as the country offered high value technologies, communication, technical solutions, science, among other industrial equipment which would assist Nigeria’s industrial drive.
Nosov emphasised that exploring more trade and investment opportunities in various sectors for enhanced co-operation and partnership would be a win-win situation for both countries.
Commenting, Dr Bashir Obasekola, Chairman of NIDO Europe, said Nigeria and Russia were countries with huge potential.
Obasekola said both countries would benefit immensely from enhanced business, adding that the private sector was the link in strengthening the economic ties.
Also, Mrs Victoria Akai, Director-General, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said Nigeria was an economic power to promote and enhance direct investment in Africa.
Akai said with Nigeria signing the African Continent Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, it had strategically positioned itself toward increasing intra-African trade and creating collective wealth for the country and its partners.
She added that the disparity of trade between both countries could be bridged through improved focus on the non-oil sector, particularly e-commerce and technology.
Commenting, Mr Suren Vardanyan, Vice President, Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said Russia was targeting Nigeria as its gateway market into African countries.
Vardanyan said the chamber’s plan was to triple trade volume between both countries within two years through direct partnership and investment in the area of manufacturing.
Similarly, Mr Sampson Uwem-Edimo, Chairman, NIDO Russia, said the conference was to deepen economic ties between the business community of both countries, while also enabling both economies to understand their markets