In December, President Muhammadu Buhari entered into a bilateral agreement with Chinese premier Xi Jinping at an economic summit in South Africa. It involved a pledge to boost trade between both nations and a Chinese commitment to build a high speed rail link in Nigeria connecting Lagos and Calabar.
Now, both nations intends to pit the agreement into practise, with China taking the first step by increasing its Nigerian oil imports from the 1m barrels it bought in 2015. Zao LingXiang, the economic and commercial counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria, said his country only accounted for 1.3% of Nigeria’s oil exports in 2015.
Mr LingXiang added: “In my opinion, it really doesn’t matter whether Iran comes back or not. Chinese companies want to import more crude oil from Nigeria.
“China is the largest developing country in the world and Nigeria is the largest developing country in Africa and both countries have complementary advantages in natural and human resources, funds and markets. Right now, the Nigerian government is trying to diversify its economy which is fully in line with the 10 China-Africa cooperation plans announced at the summit on China-Africa trade in Johannesburg in 2015."
He said the current trade volume between both countries stood at $14.94bn in 2014, making Nigeria China’s third largest trade partner in Africa. According to Mr LingXiang, China also sought to explore other areas of cooperation with Nigeria which he noted would be of benefit to both parties.
“There is great potential for cooperation between China and Nigeria in the fields of industrialisation, agricultural modernisation, infrastructure construction, financial services, trade and investment facilitation, among others. China’s total investment volume in Africa last year increased 100 times in a short span of 10 years, which shows that cooperation between both parties is moving to a new level.” Mr LingXiang added.
He said that the coming visit of President Buhari to China in April would facilitate the implementation of agreements reached at the 2015 China-African summit in Johannesburg. Mr LingXiang also said that Africa remained China’s largest trade partner despite the recent changes in the country’s economy.