The United States government has urged Nigeria to address impediments to trade and investment in the country effectively. U.S. Ambassador in Nigeria, Terence McCulley, made the call at an event to mark the 236th independence of the U.S., in Abuja.
McCulley pointed out that Nigeria remains America’s biggest trading partner in sub-Sahara Africa, exporting more goods to the United States than any other country. He said the United States was desirous of increasing its exports to Nigeria, noting that trade between Nigeria and his country rose by 467 per cent between 2001 and 2011, adding that plans were underway to double U.S. overall exports to Nigeria by 2015.
The ambassador said that the Nigerian government needed to improve the country’s trade climate. “President Obama has said that ‘development depends on good governance’ and Nigeria will become more attractive to both domestic and foreign investors by improving the rule of law.
“By respecting the sanctity of contracts and ensuring transparency and accountability, Nigerian and international firms can compete on a level playing field, and all of Nigeria will benefit. “Corruption is another impediment to investment, but I am confident the leadership of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and other authorities will be effective in identifying and prosecuting cases of fraud, thus increasing business opportunities and investor confidence in Nigeria.
“Another important barrier to economic growth today is violence and insecurity. The Nigerian people deserve effective and accountable security forces to counter violent extremism, as well as a coordinated campaign to deliver economic development,” he said. The ambassador also called on civil society organisations to serve “as the conscience of the nation in holding elected officials accountable.”
He reiterated the U.S. government’s commitment to partner with the Federal Government to address challenges faced by the latter and to improve investment opportunities for both countries. In his remarks, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Martin Uhomoibhi, lauded the role the U.S. had played in Nigeria since the country’s independence.
Uhomoibhi expressed gratitude for the U.S.-Nigeria Bi-national Commission launched two years ago and added that the focus of the commission would assist in achieving Federal Government’s transformation agenda. “Today we are proud inheritors of the Nigeria-U.S. Bi-national Commission. “Under this very unique relationship, we have foreign investment, agriculture and food security, regional security and the Niger Delta problem, good governance, transparency and democracy.”
“Only a few weeks ago, the bi-national efforts decided to zero in on regional security as an item of its own; that is because of the growing importance of dealing with this matter as a way of resolving the other interrelated matters that our two countries are involved with at this time. “I am confident that with Nigeria and the United States working together in the way that we have done, not only Nigeria, but the entire world stand a lot to gain from this cooperation,” Uhomoibhi said.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria the celebration, tagged: “The U.S. and Nigeria: Building Business Together,” reflected the trade partnership both countries shared.