21 May 2012

Nigeria: U.S. Firms Move to Set up Tractor Plants in the Country

Efforts to market Nigeria as an investment destination may have continued yielding results as some companies in the United States of America have expressed interest to establish tractor manufacturing companies in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and Kaduna State.

Nigeria's Consul General in Atlanta-Georgia, USA, Ambassa-dor Geoffrey Teneilabe, disclosed this as preparations for the ninth International Kaleidoscope Business Forum and Expo scheduled for the USA hot up.

Speaking through a statement made available to THISDAY, yesterday Teneilabe said US companies were enthusiastic about entering the Nigerian agricultural business, adding that some of them had agreed to establish tractor manufacturing companies in Kaduna and Port Harcourt.

The diplomat noted that "there are also other sideline agreements that have been signed," stressing: "Now the understanding is on that there are vast opportunities in Nigeria and if the US private sector does not go, others will take advantage and by the time they come, it may be too late just like it happened in the telecommunication industry."

The envoy noted that there was an initial reluctance on the part of US private sector players coming to Nigeria, "but the reluctance is in other sectors, not in the oil and gas sector," as "US companies are there in full force in the oil and gas sector."He said their interest was now shifted to agriculture as a way of diversifying the economy, even as he stated that power, infrastructure and other sectors were areas of attraction to the US investors.

According to him, being aware of the importance of these sectors, "GE has already signed a partnership agreement with the Nigerian government and is taking over 15 per cent of 10,000 megawatts of electricity target. "Teneilabe stated that the US EximBank had come into Nigeria and invested over a billion US dollars, adding that there are other companies that will be going to Rivers State and several other states. "They cannot all go at the same time but definitely, the interest has been gingered up, brought about by seminars, enlightenment and the education that the Nigerian environment is not as bad as being painted by the mainstream press," he said.

He maintained that there are several opportunities in Nigeria that "will be of mutual interest and mutual benefit for the US private sector investors to play the role that is expected of them."

"Because it is our foreign policy goal and objective to be a conduit to get these partners and ensure that our regulatory environment is ripe by advising our government if investors are going to Nigeria," he said.

The foreign missions, he said, were able to guide these investors through "quick issuance of visas, passports and general encouragement about general information and potential we have, the opportunities that are available in Nigeria and anything that could promote commerce and investment between US and Nigeria."

However, he cautioned that it was not enough for the Federal Government all alone to do all these, imploring the state governments to be involved because "in agriculture, the Federal Government, besides the Federal Capital Territory does not own the land, if you want to make agriculture a business, it is the state governments that have the land. So it is good that the state governments are involved."

On the security situation in the country, the Nigerian Consul General in Atlanta said the security agencies were very active in tackling any problem, stressing that "from day to day, Boko Haram elements are being exposed and arrested. Their gun factories, weapon factories are being exposed. The security agencies are doing a lot."

He added that there was greater integrated cooperation among the various security agencies and that "the Federal Government had been able to elicit the assistance of the international community to assist in tackling the security menace.

The envoy noted that "there have been several conferences, meetings where many countries have pledged assistance but let us realise that it is not everything that the government does that will be made obvious."

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