By Ebenezer Ishola
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Thursday said the State Government will be relentless in pursuing initiatives that will seek to improve the ease of doing business; manifestly making the business environment more attractive for investors.
He said Lagos State will continue to view itself as a strategic national asset, carrying the responsibility for not just being an epicenter in times of national crises but also an economic springboard in leading Nigeria to a place of social and economic prosperity.
Governor Sanwo-Olu made the statements while declaring open, the Eighth EU-Nigeria Business Forum with the theme: Nigeria and the New Economy, held at Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island in Lagos on Thursday.
He said the impact of the decisions and recommendations made at the Eighth EU-Nigeria Business Forum can be measured in the sustained status of Nigeria as Europe’s major trading partner in Africa.
“Lagos State remains a key partner and ally of the European Union considering its status as a regional commercial, financial and industrial hub; as well as its strategic role in facilitating the goals and objectives of this forum. This should be strengthened as we approach Africa as one large free trade zone,” he said.
Governor Sanwo-Olu also reiterated his administration’s commitment to the proposed 30 years Lagos State Development Plan 2052, which will be officially rolled out at the forthcoming 9th Economic Summit of the State (known as Ehingbeti).
He said the developmental plans include making Lagos the largest West Africa wholesale hub; leveraging the Nigeria market demand as a base to become the export hub for FMCG manufacturing and export in West Africa as well as becoming West Africa’s main trade hub and regional gateway for transit and port services, while serving as a strategic ally in facilitating the goals and objectives of the EU-Nigeria Business forum.
The Governor while stressing the need for a continuous and healthy relationship between Lagos and the European Union commended captains of industries and investors for their commitments toward sustaining the European Union’s partnership with Lagos, and indeed, Nigeria as a nation.
“We recognise and appreciate the need for synergy between Government and industry in achieving our joint desired objective of deepening our trade and investment links and it is hoped that the deliberations at this forum will be robust and yield new ideas and initiatives that will guide our decision-making process for the desired outcomes,” he said.
Also speaking, the Minister of State for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clement Agba, who shared the National Economic Plan and its numerous advantages with participants, said the Federal Government is currently developing a perspective plan tagged “Nigeria Agenda 2050” to sustain the Nigeria Vision 2020 and solicited the support of investors.
Agba said a diversified economy is necessary for sustainable development in various sectors to catalyse growth in Nigeria. He noted that various sectors of the economy need diversification to promote intelligence and engender sustainable development.
He said the EU-Nigeria Business Forum was designed to bring Nigeria and European nations together and further strengthen multilateral relationships between the two countries as the Federal Government creates enabling environment for all.
Speaking earlier, the Ambassador of the European Union to Nigeria, Samuela Isopi, said the EU remains Nigeria’s biggest trading partner, pegging the trade volume at 28.7 billion euros with a significant trade balance of over 6 billion in favour of Nigeria as of 2021.
She revealed that the European Union had been listening carefully to the concerns expressed by its partners around the world over the negative impact of the Russia-Ukraine war, noting that the single most important measure to mitigate its adverse impacts is to end the war by Russia, while the way forward and the way out of the crisis has to be the sustainable development of a vibrant diversified economy, based on a business environment that is attractive to investors.
Isopi said the theme of the Eighth EU-Nigeria Business Forum, “Nigeria and the New Economy” is about finding a path through difficult terrain, identifying opportunities and offering a business-friendly approach.
She said European companies had a long history in Nigeria, hence the need to continue the conversation on promoting trade relations at the forum which would feature exhibition space.
The EU-Nigeria Business Forum established to provide a platform for European and Nigerian businesses to engage with policymakers with the aim of improving the business environment and addressing issues constituting barriers to the inflow of investments, has no doubt helped in deepening trade relations between Nigerian and Europe.