The European Union (EU) says it is committed to ensuring stronger economic ties between it and Nigeria through strategic investment in key sectors. The two parties also agreed to facilitate EU investments flow into Nigeria.
Speaking at the sixth EU-Nigeria Business Forum (EUNBF) in Lagos, the Ambassador and Head of EU delegation to Nigeria and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Michel Arion said the EU and Nigeria could work together for the mutual benefits of both parties and enhance peace, security and economic cooperation.
Arion said: “What we can do is to facilitate the EU investment in Nigeria which will be absolutely key not only at the level of bilateral relations but in other fora.
“We believe that our prosperity is your prosperity; we see West Africa as a block of ECOWAS and Nigeria as the big economy in the area.
“We see West Africa not as export designation for the EU but investment destination for EU, we don’t have hidden agenda.”
He said the point was not on what the EU could do for Nigeria, but what the EU and Nigeria could do together.
“I believe that there are a lot of things we can do together basically in two main areas. One is peace and security and security and the other one is prosperity.
“We really believe that our security in the EU is your security. I believe we are fighting the same terrorists.
“The one we are fighting in West Africa may go to Europe and the one we are fighting in Europe may come to West Africa.
“We have common challenges and we can do much together in fighting terrorists and other criminals such as smugglers. We can work together that is for peace and security,” he said.
He said the EU and Nigeria had, for over 40 years, enjoyed a good business relationship which could only get better with renewed efforts on Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between EU and West Africa.
In line with the country’s plan of diversifying the economy, he said this year’s business forum with the theme, “Youth as an engine of Broad-Based Transformation” would focus on Information Communication Technology (ICT) and agribusiness, “which are the key sectors to support the growth and diversification of the Nigerian economy.”
He reaffirmed EU’s determination to support good governance and efforts to improve living standard through its carefully mapped out ongoing intervention programmes simultaneously across Nigeria.
The Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu said the theme of the conference was apt and timely because it brought attention to a segment of the country’s population that should have been contributing to the economy.
He said the government has been conscious of the role ICT plays in national development and has, therefore, been committed in the last five years to ensuring that ICT facilities and serices are expanded rapidly.