2 November 2017

West Africa: Opening Remarks At The High-Level Policy And Private Sector Forum On Trade And Investment Facilitation For Development

Photo: Twitter / Nigerian Ministry of Trade, Investment & Industry
Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo addressing the High-Level Trade and Investment Facilitation Forum for Development, in Abuja.

Abuja — Your Excellency, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Your Excellency Marcel Alain de Souza, President of the ECOWAS Commission

Your Excellency Albert Muchanga, Commissioner for Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission (AUC)

Your Excellency Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum (WEF)

Your Excellency Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

Your Excellency WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo

Your Excellency Honorable Ministers

Ambassadors / High Commissioners

Friends of Investment Facilitation for Development (FIFD)

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, I am delighted to welcome you all to Nigeria.  Thank you for honoring us with your presence, here in Abuja, from across Africa, and from all regions of the global economy.

Nigeria, the ECOWAS Commission and our WTO Friends of Investment Facilitation for Development (FIFD) are co-hosting this High-Level Forum on Trade and Investment facilitation for Development.    Trade and Investment Facilitation are organically linked and our subjects of the utmost priority for our welfare and prosperity.

A key purpose of this Forum is to confirm our openness and support for trade and investment facilitation for growth and development.  And to confirm our commitment to concrete policies, programmes and measures for trade and investment facilitation for growth and job creation.

We stand at a particular moment of challenge and opportunity in West Africa, Africa and the global economy.  In our region, there is a dramatic increase in population.  Across the global economy, enough jobs are not being created.  In Nigeria alone, approximately 2 million persons enter the labour market annually.  Yet there is an abundance of opportunities.  These opportunities can be harvested on the basis of sound market-based policies, empowerment of the private sector, establishment of PPPs, where required, a deepening of regional integration and, international cooperation.

Nigeria acted purposefully to create the partnership for co-hosting this Forum because it was obvious that this moment required strong leadership.  Nigeria accepts the responsibility to lead.  This is why Nigeria is pleased that you have accepted our invitation to meet here in Abuja to confirm and pursue our commitment to trade and investment facilitation as a growth agenda.  There is a dynamic linkage between trade and investment.  Both are inseparable and are growth engines.  If we facilitate investment, we will enable more trade, faster, sustained growth and, expansion in job opportunities.

This Forum has been organized to bring together trade and investment decision-makers and the policy and private sector communities.  There is urgency to facilitate investment as the major source of development financing.  The most recent figures indicate that over 60% of development financing originates from Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).  The choices are clear.  Investment Facilitation is a key pillar of the development agenda.  Nigeria confirms its commitment to trade and investment facilitation.  We believe that this Forum should confirm this commitment as well. Implementation of specific measures for trade and investment facilitation will be necessary at all levels: domestically, regionally and multilaterally.

If, in this 4-way partnership, between Nigeria and its ECOWAS Commission Partners, our WTO Friends of Investment Facilitation for Development and the private sector, we expand investments in "connectivity infrastructure" (ports, transport corridors and telecommunications networks), we shall reap the benefits of diversification, modernization and integration to regional and global supply chains.  Welfare would increase.  Prosperity would be enhanced.  Job opportunities would expand.

All countries need partnerships.  No country can stand alone.  Nigeria's prosperity is based on prosperity in the ECOWAS Region.  Continentally, Nigeria accepted to lead the process for the historic establishment of the first-ever Single Market for Trade in Goods and Services in the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Comparably, Nigeria has also accepted our responsibility for leadership in the WTO with our partners to drive a growth agenda based on trade and investment facilitation.  In February this year, when the Trade Facilitation Agreement came into force, Nigeria was one of the original Members.  The TFA was mutually supportive with President Buhari's priority economic agenda on an Enabling Environment for Business.  Multilateral frameworks such as for trade and investment facilitation can support domestic structural reforms for growth such an Enabling Environment for Business.

Nigeria's efforts at several levels are supported by the WTO and UNCTAD.  Nigeria is initiating engagements with the World Economic Forum (WEF) for a partnership on the growth agenda items of trade and investment facilitation, and how to apply technology for growth.

The organization of this Trade and Investment Facilitation Forum is a call for a durable partnership for a growth agenda in which there are roles for Regional Institutions like ECOWAS, the African Union (AU), the World Economic Forum (WEF), UNCTAD and the WTO.  On the WTO, all our countries at this Forum are WTO Members.  Nigeria urges that we support Argentina, as host, and WTO Director-General Azevedo for a successful Eleventh WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires next month.  We should confirm our support, inter alia, for the Investment Facilitation Agenda.

In closing, I would like to pay tribute to President Alain De Souza of the ECOWAS Commission and our Friends of Investment Facilitation for Development (FIFD); specifically,

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Hong Kong, China
  • Kazakhstan
  • Mexico
  • Pakistan
  • Qatar
  • Republic of Korea

Your partnership made this Forum possible.  This is a partnership that Nigeria would like to see expanded.  Nigeria calls on those who are not yet Members to join.

On this note I am very delighted to welcome you all to Nigeria to engage in this policy dialogue that I hope would 'facilitate' investments especially in Africa that deserves priority attention.

Dr. Okechukwu E. Enelamah  is Minister Of Industry, Trade And Investment


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