The Belgian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Dirk Verheyen yesterday revealed that the bilateral trade between Belgium and Nigeria stood at about N442.34 billion as at 2013.
But huge trade imbalance exists between both countries as Nigeria's exports to Belgium rose marginally by 3.9 per cent to only about N15.58 billion (€73.48 million) in 2013 from about N14.98 billion (€70.69 million) in 2012.
Conversely, Belgium's exports to Nigeria rose 35.6 per cent to about N426.76 billion (€2.01 billion) in 2013 from about N314.6 billion (€1.48 billion) in 2012.
Addressing journalists in Abuja on the heels of the forthcoming Flanders Investment and Trade (FIT) mission to Nigeria, the ambassador said notwithstanding, there had been marked improvement in trade relations between both parties in the past two years. FIT is responsible for commercial adventures in Belgium.
Verheyen called for diversification and more structured trade between both countries.
Consequently, he said over 60 Belgian companies would be visiting Nigeria between June 1st and 4th to among other things, further explore business opportunities and meet with potential trade partners.
He said the visiting investors were motivated by the recent rebasing of Nigeria's nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which places the country as the 26th largest economy in the world.
According to the ambassador, "everyone knows that the progress of the GDP in your country has been seven percent for more than a decade. So, more than 60 companies are coming to Lagos from the 1st until the 4th of June. 50 of them will later that week make the trip to Abuja.
"They will stay here until the 6th. Not by accident the trade mission, is headed by the president of the Port of Antwerp (Sir Marc Van Peel, who is also Deputy Mayor of that city), the second largest port in Europe, with an annual turnover of almost 200 million tons. That is to say, almost ten times the output of the biggest African port."
He said the trade mission would focus on individual contacts with interested Nigerian companies in the field of port equipment, power, transport, construction, dredging, agro-industry, health and infrastructure.
Also, the Deputy Head of Mission, Mr. Xavier Baert said the visit would further provide the opportunity for interested Nigerian businessmen and women to meet with representatives of the Belgian companies for business to business engagement for direct talks and possible partnerships.
Meanwhile, the Director, Bilateral Trade, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Sebastain Nnadi said the Belgian mission would have the full support of the government by creating the necessary awareness when they arrive the country.
He said: "We will make sure that when they come, they will set up their businesses in the right way and manner for the overall good of Nigerians."