He also ordered immediate establishment of technical committees to finalize discussions on infrastructure projects. The President equally decried the trade disparity between Nigeria and China which he said was only in the favour of the Asian country. Available reports showed that business and trade relations between Nigeria and China in the last 10 years had increasingly appreciated, with bilateral trade volumes rising from $2.8 billion in 2005 to $14.9 billion in 2015.
Of this figure, Nigeria accounted for 8.3 per cent of the total trade volume between China and Africa and 42 per cent of the total trade volume between China and the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, countries in 2015. Speaking at the opening of a Nigeria China Business/Investment Forum, yesterday, in Beijing, capital of China, President Buhari said trade and economic relations between both countries must be mutually beneficial and reciprocal.
He called on the Nigerian and Chinese business communities to work harder to reduce the trade imbalance between both countries. He said: “Although the Nigerian and Chinese business communities have recorded tremendous successes in bilateral trade, there is a large trade imbalance in favour of China as Chinese exports represent some 80 per cent of the total bilateral trade volumes.
This gap needs to be reduced. “Therefore, I would like to challenge the business communities in both countries to work together to reduce the trade imbalance. “You must also imbibe the spirit of having a mutually beneficial relationship in your business transactions. You must not see Nigeria as a consumer market alone, but as an investment destination where goods can be manufactured and consumed locally.”
The President also ordered immediate establishment of technical committees to finalize discussion on infrastructure projects discussed with the Chinese government. This came as President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China offered $15 million agricultural assistance to Nigeria for the establishment of 50 agricultural demonstration farms across the country.
Besides, the Chinese government promised to increase its scholarship aides to Nigeria from 100 to 700 students on a yearly basis. Signing of agreements, MoU These developments followed the signing of a plethora of mutual agreements and Memoranda of Understanding, MoU, between Nigeria and China in Beijing, yesterday. Both President Buhari and President Jinping, who led their respective country officials, witnessed the events.
The agreements included a “Framework Agreement Between the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the National Development and Reform Commission of the Peoples Republic of China.
” Others were a “Memorandum of Understanding on Aviation Cooperation Between the Ministry of Transportation (Aviation) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Ministry of Commerce of the Peoples Republic of China” and a “Memorandum of Understanding Between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Government of the Peoples Republic of China on Scientific and Technological Cooperation”.
Also, a “Mandate Letter Between the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and the Central Bank of Nigeria on Renminbi (RMB) Transactions” was also signed. Speaking after talks between his delegation and high-ranking Chinese government officials, led by President Jinping, President Buhari directed that the technical committees would expedite action and conclude their assignments before the end of May.
The President lauded China’s readiness to assist Nigeria to rapidly industrialize and join the world’s major economies. Reacting, President Jinping, while agreeing that economic diversification was one sure way of achieving prosperity, promised that China would provide Nigeria with infrastructural support.