French Minister in charge of Foreign Trade and Attractiveness, Franck Riester, has explained reasons why France and Nigeria's bilateral trade dropped to $2.3billion in 2020.
Riester who spoke on Tuesday after meeting with a delegation of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) in Abuja, said the drop in trade volume was due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
He, therefore, expressed optimism that the trade will improve this year.
According to him, the visit follows on the priorities set by French President, Emmanuel Macron, during his official visit to Nigeria in July 2018 and his willingness to change the narrative of the relations between Africa and France.
The minister further stated that he will have several official meetings in Abuja and Lagos, to stress the importance of the bilateral economic relation.
He said: "Nigeria is indeed France's first commercial partner in Sub-Saharan Africa : bilateral trade amounted to a total of 4.5 billion USD in 2019 (2.3 billion USD in 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic).
"France is a major financial partner for Nigeria, being the second bilateral creditor of Nigeria after China, thanks to the involvement of French Development Agency (AFD). AFD engaged more than 2 billion Euros in the last 10 years in over 35 development projects.
"France will also dedicate financing and capacity building in the health sector in some Nigerian States.
"France is also one of the major partners of the COVAX initiative. Last February, President Macron stated that the failure to share vaccines would entrench global inequality and proposed sending part of the coronavirus vaccine supplies owned by European countries, the USA, China and Russia to developing countries.
"Nigeria is the first country in sub-Saharan Africa for French direct investments. There are around 100 French companies, present in many sectors (health, energy, environment, logistics... ), employing more than 10 000 people, mostly Nigerians, and contributing to vocational training," he said.