The Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Segun Awolowo, wednesday said the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland, has agreed to work with the council on a trade paper on the challenges and opportunities of the Brexit on Nigeria.
Speaking on the impact of Brexit on ARISE TV in Abuja, Awolowo said since the Britain has triggered the Brexit process, it means both opportunities and challenges.
“There are two words to describe this which is opportunities and challenges. Of the two countries, Britain is a big economy in the world and Nigeria is the 24th largest economy in the world and with the colonial background, we have a strong relationship with the United Kingdom (UK). “Nonetheless, trading with a big economic block in base is much better to do but even that has its challenges.
“For Nigeria, we tried negotiating a very complex free trade agreement that is the partnership agreement with the EU and I think two other nations in West Africa but have not signed yet. So of course it is easier negotiating with a single country so that is the immediate advantage in that and when it is a partner, historically because we have about two million Nigerians in Diaspora so it is a big market for export and services both in ICT and financial sector. So that is why I would say there are opportunities and challenges but even with that, we don’t know how this is going to extend to us,” he said.
According to him, whatever the outcome is, Nigeria is going to trade with Britain, stressing, “It is just going to be on how we direct our trade. And I think Nigeria is very important we are their second largest trading partner in Africa and they are our third largest trading partner. So we are going to trade anyway.”
Speaking on the trade deficit with UK, Awolowo explained that Nigeria has been trading only one commodity over the years and that is oil.
“We are just in a position of a serious attempt to diversify the economy. Nigeria has released its Nigerian economic recovery and growth plan which is what we are going to use to get us out of this recession. And on the background of that is the strong emphasis on export because we believe once we are able to trade other things than oil then we would have a balance in our trade deficit all across the world. So Britain is very key. They are our largest foreign direct investment partner and this the time we are urging them to invest in manufacturing and industry in Nigeria. So that market is very big and very key,” he said.
Meanwhile, a chemist and pharmacist, Mr. Sam Ohuabunwa, has called for the issuance of new standards that will control the level of benzene in food products in the country, the former Chief Executive Officer of Neimeth Pharmaceuticals Plc, who made call against backdrop of controversy Fanta and Coke.
Benzene in soft drinks is a public health concern and has caused significant outcry among environmental and health advocates.
Speaking on ARISE TV, Ohuabunwa said scientific fact available showed that this reaction does occur but might not be a such a great harzards.
“However, most countries, have gone ahead to limit the benzene content in soft drinks and any liquid. They try and accept standards, I believe that is the issue in our country and believe we need to set standards local manufacturers can comply with,” he said.
He called on the Nigerian Bottling Company to be transparent by coming out with more information on its products, adding that the company should also comply with what they have been asked to.
He disclosed that benzene is present in the water we drink.