By Amit Shankar Abuja [Nigeria], Sept. 27 : As both India and Nigeria make an attempt to broad base their economy, Vice President M. Hamid Ansari on Tuesday said both nations should harness the complementarities in attracting investments, which is a key factor for a positive economic growth.
He emphasised that there is a considerable potential for expanding trade in the areas of automotive components, automobiles, engineering products, IT, pharmaceuticals, bio-technology and healthcare sectors.
Noting that Nigeria is an important partner for India's energy security requirement and about 12 percent of India's crude requirement comes from Nigeria, Vice President Ansari said, "Given India's current and expanding energy requirements, there is significant potential for diversifying our engagement in oil and gas sector by enhancing our cooperation in both upstream and downstream domains." Asserting that the overall engagement between India and Nigeria remains vibrant and full of vitality, the Vice President said, "It is a matter of satisfaction that for the last few years, India has been the largest trading partner of Nigeria, and Nigeria is the largest trading partner of India in Africa.
Our bilateral trade has been growing steadily for the last one decade and touched US (Dollar) 16 billion in 2014-15.
It is only because of the global decline in oil prices that our trade has slowed down in the past one year.
Economic and commercial cooperation occupies prominent position in our bilateral matrix." "Over 100 Indian companies have made Nigeria their base to operate in West Africa, employing the largest number of Nigerians after the Federal Government, and covering diverse sectors of the economy.
It is estimated that the Indian investments have exceeded 10 billion US Dollars so far, and another 5 billion US dollars are committed.
Indian investments are in diverse sectors such as communications, power, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, automotive sector and oil, among others," he said at the Nigeria-India Business Forum, which was also attended by Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Stressing on the need to synergise efforts by both nations in the areas of economy and business," Vice President Ansari observed, "The vast consumer market, youthful and skilled human resources and expertise in the field of information technology of India coupled with Nigeria's natural resources, youthful population and strategic location would provide a platform for enhanced economic engagement." "We are extremely happy to see the initiatives which Nigeria has launched under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari.
As Nigeria embarks with renewed vigour and determination in realising greater prosperity for its people, India stands ready to join as a partner." The Vice President noted that the market liberalisation of India in the nineties followed by calibrated economic reforms in the past decade has led to sustainable economic growth and socio-economic development and India's economy registered a growth of 7 percent in the last quarter, which is one of the highest rates globally.
"The fast rate of urbanization and the growth of a large, aspirational middle class in India, coupled with a youthful population make India one of the most attractive markets in the world today," he added.
"The last two decades of economic growth have also strengthened India's private sector and it is keen to expand its global operations.
The innovative spirit of Indian industry, backed by a strong government research and development push and a network of quality education institutions, make India and the Indian companies the most promising business partners today," he added.
Holding infrastructure development and energy security as key areas for cooperation for emerging economies like India and Nigeria, the Vice President said, "These sectors allow for both our countries to collaborate and benefit from each other's expertise.
Infrastructure stimulation programmes launched by the Government of India, like the mission to develop 100 Smart Cities, upgrade infrastructure development in urban and rural areas and enhance nationwide connectivity through the 'Digital India' programme, have created massive opportunities for foreign partners in the Indian economy." Our societies are still largely agrarian.
Therefore, agricultural industry, food processing and related small and medium enterprises offer opportunities for trade and investment which could be explored by our business houses with the support from the governments.
"The Green Alternative Plan - a roadmap to make Nigeria, not only self-sufficient in agriculture but also a major exporter of quality agricultural products, launched last month offers an opportunity for sharing of India's experience in agro-industry sector," he said.
Noting that India's expertise and proven capabilities in production of pharmaceuticals, especially generic medicines at affordable cost, advancement in healthcare sectors and science and technology, high quality education at reasonable cost could also be potential areas of investments by both sides, Vice President Ansari said, "Indian private sector is keen to further engage with their Nigerian counterparts in diverse sectors of the economy.
In June this year, ASSOCHAM established its Abuja Chapter. This is in addition to the existing Nigeria-India Chamber of Commerce and Industries (NICCI) that is based in Lagos." "We have the institutional mechanism to review progress made in the bilateral engagement including in trade and investments sectors.
The next Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) will take stock of the ongoing cooperation in trade and investments," said the Vice President.
Observing that in the backdrop of the current international economic and financial situation, there is an even greater need for us to join hands and synergise our growth strategies, he said, "India and Nigeria are well placed to convert this challenge into an opportunity.
We count on you, the business leaders from Nigeria and India, to be the architects of this important change." Wishing the Business Meet a great success in its deliberations, the Vice President said, "I thank the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Nigerian National Chamber of Commerce together with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and ASSOCHAM India-Nigeria Business Council for partnering in holding this important Business Meet." "I am very happy to be here today at this gathering of captains of trade and industry from Nigeria and India, two of the most dynamic emerging economies of the world.
I see from your agenda that you would be holding intensive deliberations on expanding our existing commercial relations as well as for identifying new sectors of economic cooperation," he added.
Vice President Ansari on Monday left on a five-day official visit to Nigeria and Mali as part of efforts to bolster New Delhi's ties with both West African nations.
The historic State visit to Nigeria by then prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in October 2007 after a gap of over forty five years elevated the strategic partnership.
Nigeria is India's largest trading partner in Africa with the bilateral trade amounting to USD 12.6 billion in 2015-16.
India is also the largest buyer of crude oil from Nigeria, and more than 100 Indian companies have a large presence there as well as both the countries have strong defence cooperation.
On the second leg of his trip, the Vice President will reach Mali on September 29 for the first ever high-level visit at the invitation of Prime Minister Modibo Keita.