President Muhammadu Buhari has challenged Spanish investors to take advantage of Nigeria’s tax- free environment and limitless expatriate quota at the nation’s Free Trade Zones to boost Nigeria-Spain trade and economic opportunities.
The Nigerian leader gave the charge at a Business Forum jointly organized by Spanish Chamber of Commerce, the Nigerian Ministry of Trade, and the Confederation of Employers (CEOE) in Madrid, Spain, on Thursday.
According to him, for quite a number of decades, Spain has been one of Nigeria’s most important trading partners.
He revealed that the country had been a major importer of Nigerian crude oil, noting that Nigeria’s exports to Spain stood at $4.8billion in 2020 whilst Spain’s exports to Nigeria increased from $97.2 million in 1995 to $517million in 2020.
He, however, maintained that a lot more could be done to increase the volume of trade.
According to the president, the business forum presents a good opportunity to explore how this can be achieved despite the current challenging time for the global economy.
He said: ”We are open to widening collaboration with Spain and in order to encourage private capital inflow, we have put together fiscal investment incentives which include the following:
”Three to five years tax holidays for enterprises in what we deem to be pioneer industries; tax-free operations and no restrictions on expatriate quotas in our Free Trade Zones;
”Capital allowances for agriculture, manufacturing and engineering amongst others.
”Going into partnerships with trusted local and foreign partners who have well-established networks and understand the dynamics of the economy and country is one of the identified keys to success in Nigeria.
”Today provides a platform for Spanish businesses to connect with credible Nigerian partners.
”I trust that all here present will build relationships that will translate into increased trade and investment flows between Nigeria and Spain.”
The Nigerian leader also advocated for increased collaboration between African nations and Europe to mitigate against both current and potential future supply-chain challenges arising from the on-going Russia-Ukraine war.
”But I have always held the strong conviction that there is no crisis without an accompanying opportunity and solution.
”Increased collaboration with African nations could well be what Europe needs to mitigate against both current and potential future supply-chain challenges and improve both our economic opportunities.
”Historically, the focus has been on Nigeria’s oil sector but Nigeria is home to a wide range of other sectors that hold very great potentials.
”We are the largest economy in Africa and our well over 200 million-strong consumer market is home to a range of attractive opportunities in sectors such as agriculture, healthcare, light manufacturing, infrastructure development and technology,” he said.
According to him, Nigeria has a number of other notable mineral resources including coal, gold, bitumen, iron ore and uranium.
”However, our current focus is on adding value to our natural resources prior to exportation,” he added.
O the administration’s efforts to move beyond the historical dependence on crude oil for government revenue and foreign exchange inflows, the president said it had successfully driven its diversification and put the economy on the path of sustainable and inclusive growth through an open, rules based and market-oriented way of doing business.
He used the opportunity of the meeting to thank the Spanish government for the donation of 4.4 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine to Nigeria.
”This is an example of being your brother’s keeper and in that same spirit of brotherhood I would like to assure you of our administration’s continuous commitment and determination to collaborate on issues of collective concern like security, health and our shared prosperity,” he said.
In her speech, the Spanish Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, said Nigeria had become Spain’s strategic trade partner in the last five years, adding that Spain was Nigeria’s second largest foreign trade destination.
In his remarks, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, Nigeria and Spain had enjoyed a very cordial relationship since the 1960s.
He said: ”I have always felt there are many similarities between the peoples of both countries; we are equally warm and passionate; we love past-times like football and dancing and even your national dish of paella has a lot of similarities with Nigeria’s own national dish of jollof rice.”
According to him, the Nigerian government will be ready to support businesses that are willing to enter the Nigerian market to invest, saying the country is fertile for investments in various sectors, including security, infrastructure, tech and science.
“Nigeria is also home to a multitude of investment opportunities in, but not limited to, the following sectors: security, infrastructure, the green economy and technology.
”Nigeria is at the beginning of a tech boom with growing interest in our fin-tech and ag-tech spaces.
“This is an area I can see a lot of scope for collaboration with Spanish firms.
”Agriculture and food production are other big areas and I am glad that a major Spanish company is already very active in Nigeria in this space.
“Nigeria is open for business and the Federal Government is ready to partner with and support Spanish businesses wishing to enter our market.
”We have begun exploratory talks with the European Union on an Investment Facilitation Agreement, and we are open to direct agreements and partnerships with Spain.
The Nigerian Ambassador to Spain, Ademola Seriki, who also spoke at the event, expressed the hope that both countries would be exploring business opportunities in multiple areas, as a result of the engagement provided by the forum.
The business meeting attracted participants from both Nigerian and Spanish business and political circles. (NAN)