The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, on Tuesday called for the establishment of Nigeria-France Business Council to enhance trade relations between the two countries.
The Minister made the call in Abuja while addressing French Minister for Foreign Trade and Attractiveness, Mr Franck Riester, who was accompanied by some French investors in Nigeria.
He explained that the council, which would be private sector-driven, would perform the statutory roles of coordinating and promoting enabling business environment that would spur economic growth.
Adebayo, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Ifedayo Sayo, also called on French companies to take advantage of the nation’s teeming youth to invest in software manufacturing in the country.
Noting that France is a large exporter of software, he called on some of the French software companies to come into the country and establish their companies to create jobs for the teeming youth.
This, the Minister said, would help President Muhammadu Buhari to achieve its plan to take 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years.
Adebayo said the setting up of some Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to promote the manufacturing sector had provided investors another great opportunity to invest in the country.
He explained that the special economic zones were being provided with the much needed infrastructure that would ease the setting up of industries in the country.
Besides, he urged them to take advantage of Nigeria’s participation in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to invest in the country so that they would have access to a very large market in the continent.
Riester had congratulated the country on the emergence of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, noting that France stood by Nigeria in seeing the emergence of her candidate for the WTO topmost job.
The French Minister said France would like to build a longtime partnership with Nigeria, not only in the area of trade, but also going into other areas.
He also welcomed the idea of setting up the Nigeria-France Business Council, saying it was the desire of the French authorities to get more of its businessmen to come into the country to invest.
Addressing representatives of French companies in the country, Adebayo said the Federal Government would continue to do its best to create a conducive environment for them to thrive.
Some of the companies which had representatives present at the meeting were CFAO represented by Mr Regis Tromeur; FanMilk, Mr Ferdinand Mouko; Swipha, Mr Frederic Lieutaud; Spie Oil and Gas, Mr Guillaume Niarfeix; and PACE, Mr Mathieu Guillerey.
In their different presentations, they sought the minister’s intervention in accessibility to foreign exchange, increased efficiency at the port to ease clearance of consignment, improvement in security situation in the country and stable policies, amongst others.
They however pledged to continue to do business in the country, stressing that they were committed to expanding their investment with the support of the government.