The European Union (EU), and the National Association of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), have insisted that the imperative of economic integration in West African sub region cannot be over emphasised.
The EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Michel Arrion, during a visit to NACCIMA, in Lagos recently, noted that Nigeria plays a vital in the promotion of economic integration in the sub region.
According to him, by 2050, Nigeria will be the third largest country in the world after China and India, adding that the EU is ready to work with Nigeria and other Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member countries to promote trade in the region.
Noting that the country is also one of the biggest markets in the world, he said Nigeria in ECOWAS is like Germany in Europe - with huge population and the biggest economy.
He added that the private sector would also play an important role in the economic development of the region, as they are the ones that create jobs and contribute to the redistribution of income.
Arrion also advised government to shift from primary agriculture to secondary in the diversification agenda of the Buhari administration.
He insisted that Nigeria stands to gain a lot if the European Trade Agreement (ETA) is adopted, as the country will not become a dumping ground contrary to belief in some quarters.
With regard to the rejection of Nigerian agricultural produce in the EU market, the Envoy clarified that it was only one product, the dry beans that was banned from Europe due to the high toxicity discovered in them, and not 24 as widely reported.
On her part, the National President, NACCIMA, Iyalode Alaba Lawso, said: "we commend the efforts that European Union is putting into the promotion of regional integration among private sector operators in West African countries through its collaboration with the World Bank and ECOWAS Commission on the development of a tool on improved Business and Investment Climate in West Africa.
"We are both aware that Nigeria is one of the top trading partners of the EU countries. That is why the EU and Nigeria must continue to re-energise this relationship for the mutual benefit of both parties. I want to re emphasize that NACCIMA will continue to ensure an enhanced trade partnership with member countries of the European Union, and would be available to partner the EU Commission in any area for greater business development and integration."