The Federal Government on Tuesday sealed a bilateral agreement with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to improve the level of trade from the current $70m (N11.2bn) to $1bn (N160bn) within the next five years.
The agreement was the high point of a meeting between President Goodluck Jonathan and his counterpart from Pakistan, President Mamnoon Hussain.
Under the agreement, both countries according to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Olusegun Aganga would establish Pakistani-Nigeria Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry which would provide a platform for a common officially recognized level of promotion of economic activities.
Speaking at the Nigeria-Pakistan business forum in Abuja where the bilateral agreement was officially signed, Jonathan described the occasion as historic owing to the fact that this is the first time a Pakistani president would be visiting the country in the 52 year history of trade relation.
He said the forum had presented both countries with the platform not only to strengthen trade, both to create an enabling environment for the private sectors of the two countries to drive their respective economies.
“The current level of trade between Nigeria and Pakistan is very low considering the fact that both countries are members of D-8 group.
“As members of an important organisation such as as D-8, there is need to increase the level of investments so that the trade target of $1bn could be realised,” Jonathan said.
The D-8 are a group of developing countries made up of Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Turkey with an objective to improve member states’ position in the global economy, diversify and create new opportunities in trade relations, enhance participation in decision-making at international level, and improve standards of living.
President Jonathan said the coming of Hussain with trade delegation from Pakistan is a demonstration of the vision shared by the leadership of both countries to grow businesses, reduce poverty, create wealth and deepen economic cooperation.
“This forum has provided us with a platform to interact and work for the development of businesses for our countries
“Nigeria and Pakistan have over the years established a friendly relationship that is anchored on a shared vision of a stable world in which all countries can grow.
“Am aware that there are a lot of Pakistani businesses already operating in Nigeria. Similarly, there are Nigerian companies in Pakistan and this is a healthy development.
“But it must also be noted that the current trade volume is extremely low because you cannot talk about Pakistan and Nigeria and be talking of a trade volume that is less than $100m.
“That is why as governments, we want to create an enabling environment for business to explore the opportunities we have and push this trade volume to at least $1bn within the next five years,” he stated.
Also speaking, the President of Pakistan said there are huge investment opportunities for Nigerian investors to take advantage of in Pakistan.
He said his country’s incentives to investors had made Pakistan one of the preferred investment destinations for investors.
To help improve the volume of trade between both countries, he said Pakistan has agreed to open a commercial centre in Lagos to provide information to Nigerian investors that are interested in investing in Pakistan.
He said, “Pakistan offers huge business opportunities to Nigerian investors in sectors such as power, infrastructure, telecoms and railway.
“I urge business communities of the two countries to work together to achieve lasting gains for the economic development of both countries.”