Written by Sarah NEGEDU

Osibanjo tasks Africa, others, on global trade opportunities

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has asked developing countries, especially those in Africa, to take advantage of the $50 trillion export opportunity available in global trade by fully implementing the Trade Facilitation Agreement of the World Trade Organisation.

Osinbajo gave the advice in Abuja at the opening session of a two-day high level policy and private sector forum on trade and investment facilitation for development.

The vice-president said that for Africa to maximise the benefits of its huge potential, there was a need to take the issue of trade and investment very importantly as it was vital for economic development.

He told participating developing countries that the era of depending on resources alone was gone, as the tide is now shifting to trade and investment facilitation to grow economies.

He described Africa as a land of immense opportunities, noting that Foreign Direct Investment inflow into the region was expected to hit $75.5billion by the end of this year. He said the expected investment inflows of $75.5billion into the region would be far higher than the $56.5billion recorded in 2016.

In his words, “We are in a time of critical challenges and in a time of huge opportunities, our population will equal the population of India and China together by 2050.

“Some say so earlier, by the same year we will have the youngest population in the world, climate change has great impact on Africa than elsewhere and security challenges stubbornly remain in many of our states.”

He added, “Yet consumers’ spending is projected to reach $1.4tn in the next few years and business to business spending to reach $3.5tn in the next eight years.

“African economies are doing better than ever before despite the difficult global economic environment; Gross Domestic Product growth rate, with average 2.2 per cent in 2015, is estimated to rise to 3.4 percent this year and to 4.3 per cent in 2018, all above the global average.”

In his remark at the event, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, said developing countries, including Nigeria, needed about $2.5trillion yearly investment to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

He stated that the country’s improvement in the World Bank ease of doing business ranking was a demonstration of the effectiveness of the government’s recent policies.

The Director General of the WTO, Roberto Azevedo, advised developing countries to forge closer ties through trade collaborations and investment facilitations, including implementing fully the TFA. He said trade and investment had proven to be the best economic tool to stimulate development.

The two-day event was hosted by Nigeria in collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission and World Trade Organisation, among others.

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