This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria, Pakistan to Partner On Sugar Production, SME Financing

Nigeria and Pakistan have reached an agreement to collaborate in the areas of sugar production, textile and the financing of Small and Medium Scales Enterprises (SMEs).

Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga, stated this yesterday, noting that the agreement was reached during a meeting he had with his Pakistani counterpart, Munir Qureshi; and the deputy governor of the country's central bank, Kazi Muktadir.

Aganga told journalists in Islamabad, Pakistan, where he was part of the presidential entourage to the summit of Eight Developing Nations (D-8) that there are four areas we have agreed to work together. One area is the financing of SMEs. They have a system here; they use mobile phones and it has worked well and where they share risk and profit with SMEs of the country. It has been found to be successful in some areas. We are looking at how that can be applied to Nigeria quickly because we have a very big SMEs sector. That is the sector that drives economic growth and job creation."

"The other area of collaboration is sugar. Recently, we approved the government policy on sugar. Pakistanis are exporters of sugar and it is sugarcane to sugar, the kind we are trying to encourage. As of today, we only produce two per cent of the sugar we consume in the country. 98 per cent is brown sugar that we import into the country."

"What the approach going to be is sugarcane to sugar which actually creates a lot of jobs. They are doing it. They actually manufactured their sugar mills being used in this country. About 98 per cent of their sugar mills in this country were manufactured locally. We are going to collaborate in that sector, having joint venture with major players in Pakistan."

He added that: "One other area Pakistanis have been extremely successful is the area of textile. About 78 per cent of their export is textile. That sector was once a big employer of labour in Nigeria. We have made some improvements in the last two years from about 25 per cent to 48 per cent in terms of capacity."

"We want to develop our textile sector right from cotton to fashion design and they have done that extremely well in Pakistan. This is an area we want to collaborate with them and have joint venture," he elaborated, emphasising that:

"They also do a lot of fertilizer. A number of our governments and governors were here recently to import a lot of tractors. What we are saying is for that company to come to Nigeria and set up and start maintaining those tractors as well as assemble them in Nigeria."

The minister also Aganga said a trade delegation from Pakistan is expected in Nigeria in December.

"I expect that the visit is possible in the next one month because I want to do it as part of our industrial revolution," he said.

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