By Sunday Oyinloye
About 120 companies have registered to participate in the Nigeria- Belgium-Luxembourg Business Forum with prospect of the figure rising to hundreds, Nigerian Ambassador to Belgium, Mr. Obinna Chiedu Onowu has said.
Ambassador Onowu disclosed this weekend at the official unveiling of Belgium Luxembourg Nigeria Chamber of Commerce (BLNCC) in Abuja.
Onowu said BLNCC is a veritable platform to advance the Federal government’s drive for investment and policy on economic diplomacy stressing that the chamber can serve as a clearing house for trade inquiries from businesses in the three counties.
In his words: “BLNCC could also provide a good platform for match making which is currently a major challenge
“For us at the Mission, we see the BLNCC as an important partner in the work of deepening trade ties especially in the key sectors, such as education, transportation, agriculture, healthcare, renewable energy, information technology, trade, entertainment and services “
He said the Mission is already working in facilitating the forthcoming Nigeria- Belgium-Luxembourg Business Forum(NBLBF) in June this year, adding, “I look forward to greater collaboration to improve subsisting commercial relations and ultimately deliver more economic gains to Nigeria, Belgium as well as Luxembourg “
On trade relations with Belgium, Ambassador Onowu revealed that foreign trade report for the fourth quarter of 2022 by the National Bureau of Statistics of Nigeria indicates that the Kingdom of Belgium ranks among the major countries of origin of imports to Nigeria, adding “ the kingdom has been consistent within this ranking for almost two years’’
The Ambassador disclosed further” records with the Belgian Foreign Trade Agency indicates that for the first month of 2023,Nigeria ranked the 16th client in trade volume (export into Nigeria) amongst Belgian trade partners which amounted to 511.8 million Euros and 60th supplier in trade volume (import into Belgium ) in the sum of 43.5 million Euros
“Trade balance between both countries stands at 468.3 million Euros in the favour of Belgium. As it is Belgium is strategic and an important trade partner for Nigeria. Trade is majorly in the oil sector that is for Nigeria while mineral products, Chemical, machinery and equipment are the major items received from Belgium.
Onowu said there is an urgent need to improve interaction in the non-oil sector.
As regards Luxembourg, Ambassador Onowu notes that the country has a reputation of being a solid financial hub which makes it strategic trade partner adding “though trade relations with Nigeria are minimal, there are prospects for both countries to deepen trade ties through mechanisms such as the BLNCC”
He commended the President of BLNCC Nigeria Chapter, Dr. Johnson Somadina Anene for his purposeful leadership, forthrightness and strong commitment to bring into fruition the Belgium Luxembourg , Nigeria Chamber.
Onowu also commended the good work of the President of BLNCC in Brussels, Chris Amssoms, the Board of Trustees, Executive and members “who welcomed me ,organised a successful Meet and Greet, and have since been deploying efforts to enhance relations between businesses in addition to midwifing the BLNCC Abuja”.
In his remarks, the Belgian Ambassador to Nigeria Mr. Daniel Bertrand who was represented at the event reiterated the commitment of his country to improving trade with Nigeria stressing that Belgium’s trade relations with Nigeria is not only in the oil, but also in other sectors of the economy.
He said his Mission was committed to the forthcoming Nigeria- Belgium-Luxembourg Business Forum adding that the economic ties of both countries can be improved with Nigeria’s chapter of the BLNCC
Also speaking at the event, the President of BLNCC, Nigerian Chapter, Dr. Johnson Somadina Anene commended Ambassador Onowu for his efforts in promoting trade relations between Nigeria, Belgium and Luxembourg.
He said the mission of BLNCC, Nigeria Chapter is to foster business relations between Nigeria , Belgium and Luxembourg” as well as promotion of cross cultural understanding and enhancing quality of life of those who live and do businesses in these countries”
The Chairman of the unveiling ceremony, Senator Nenadi Usman said improved trade relations between the three countries, particularly in the non-oil sector would lead to job creation in Nigeria and reduction in crime.