Nigeria has launched an economic diplomacy initiative, aiming to take advantage of the country’s over 100 foreign missions to woo foreign businesses to invest in Nigeria and to create market access for Nigerian businesses in other countries.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo launched the Nigerian Economic Development Initiative (NEDI) organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Thursday at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Speaking at the launch of the initiative, Prof. Osinbajo said the event was of monumental importance to both Nigeria’s diplomacy and the economy.
“This is the convergence of our global reach and influence with the tremendous opportunities for commerce and industry in Nigeria, a game-changing synergy that has been waiting to happen for years,” the vice president said.
Osinbajo said NEDI was designed to complement the fundamental economic objective of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, which is to improve the well-being of Nigerians.
He said the economic objective of the administration, as contained in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) emphasises sustained growth to generate the large number of jobs that Nigeria requires.
“We are also developing an economically empowered, healthy and educated workforce and we are committed to providing infrastructure, especially power, road, rail and broadband infrastructure that is fundamental to the economic pace that we have set for ourselves.”
The vice president said NEDI, as designed, “fits very well into the ongoing work towards an enabling architecture of laws, of rules, of processes, and tools that will facilitate businesses.”
According to him, economic diplomacy has a key role to play in achieving the objectives of the ERGP.
“It is a means by which we intend to manage global inter-dependence relating to trade, to investment and financial flows and the articulation of international economic roles and participation in the global value chain.
“So it is imperative that given the size of the Nigerian economy we are well positioned to actively participate in international economic affairs in a manner that is collaboratively beneficial to us and of course to our partners,” he said.
Osinbajo said Nigeria’s participation in international economic processes must take into account of official multilateral and bilateral relations as well as trade and investment flows.
“This is why we have participated in African integration processes since the adoption of the Lagos Plan of Action and the Treaty of establishing the African Economic Community.
“It is also why we participated actively in negotiations to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area.”
Speaking at the event, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said NEDI was conceived to support the economic diversification programme of the Buhari administration.
Onyeama disclosed that the idea was to facilitate market access for Nigerian businesses in the countries where Nigeria has missions and also to attract foreign direct investments into Nigeria.
The Foreign Affairs Minister also said NEDI was designed to leverage on the modern technology, stating that a website has been created for this purpose.
Also speaking, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, said the NEDI aligned with other initiatives of the government.