Brexit: Awolowo calls for stronger economic relationship with UK

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Mr Olusegun Awolowo, Executive Director, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), says Nigeria will maintain a strong economic relationship with Britain to achieve the 4.5 billion pounds post BREXIT.

Awolowo made the statement in Abuja on Thursday at a stakeholders’ forum on BREXIT with the theme “Opportunities and Challenges for Nigeria’’.

Brexit is an abbreviation for “British exit,” referring to the UK’s decision in a June 23, 2016 referendum to leave the European Union (EU).

“The Commonwealth noted that with the proposed Trade and Investment Cooperation Agreement (TICA) between both countries, the UK’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) could increase to 4.5 billion pounds from 1 billion pounds by the year 2030.

“This will be possible if both countries implement programme to improve trade competitiveness and ease of doing business between them,’’ he said.

Awolowo said the forum was to discuss with stakeholders in international trade on the opportunities and challenges of Brexit to Nigeria.

“You will agree with me the EU is one of our leading trading partners. On the other hand, UK is one of the major export destinations and source of FDI for Nigeria and some other countries.

“Nigerian exports to the UK in 2015 stood at 4 per cent of its global exports valuing a little over 2.1 billion dollars.

“Nigeria also imported about 4 per cent of its global import valuing 1.6 billion dollars from UK.

“in  view of this, we need to maintain a strong economic relationship with Britain in alignment of our membership of the Commonwealth,’’ he said.

Awolowo said the objective of the forum was to guide policy formulators and implementers on necessary mechanism required to maintain and consolidate on the relationship with British government.

He added that it would also enable participants have a full understanding of the implications of Brexit on the economic and political environment.

Mrs Opeyemi Abebe, Commonwealth Trade Adviser, said the Federal Government should put up policy alternative to ensure that Nigerian export into the UK did not suffer at the end of the Brixit.

“Nigeria had traded with UK under a trade agreement that included the whole of the Europeans; Britain leaving EU, it has implication for the country trade for both oil and non oil,’’ Abebe said.

She said the forum was to discuss opportunities that would arise and how the country could take advantage of some of the trade diversion that might occur as Britain left the EU.

“Automatically some of the exports from Nigeria will become a little more competitive than some of the exports from the Eastern European counties  into the UK, giving our traditional relationship with the UK,’’ Abebe said.

She said the Commonwealth had identified the agriculture sector which showed that with about 21 product lines, Nigeria could be more competitive in the UK market to expand its exports.

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