BRITAIN has signed 11 trade agreements with African countries as part of a desperate attempt to expand her trading empire ahead of its impending exit from the European Union (EU) which is coming up on January 31.
In what is the first major international summit hosted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the UK is hosting about a dozen African leaders at a special UK-Africa Summit that kicked off in London today. President Muhammadu Buhari is one of the African leaders attending the event that has brought together governments, business leaders and dozens of international organisations to generate new opportunities for investments and trade.
Under a new regime die to come into effect post-Brexit, Britain intends to use its foreign aid budget to support investment. Britain’s Department for International Development said it is now focusing on digital technologies, green energy and women entrepreneurs and as such has already signed deals worth more than £6bn ($7.8bn), with more expected during the summit.
In an article titled A new case for a Commonwealth Based on Trade, President Buhari said Nigeria seeks closer ties with the UK and called for better trade as well as uncomplicated movement of people and goods within the Commonwealth. He noted that in recent years, Nigeria-UK relationship, particularly economically, has become increasingly defined by Britain’s membership of the European Union.
President Buhari said: “A new free trade agreement would reconfigure this, presenting new opportunities for both. As the largest economy in Africa, my country of nearly 200m people has a great deal to offer, as Nigeria’s vast natural energy and mineral resources, unbarred through the ending of customs barriers, could help supply growth for companies in all corners of the UK.
“For my country, greater UK engagement in its economy would bring jobs to under-tapped sectors, such as agriculture and manufacturing. Millions of highly skilled, English-speaking but under-employed young people are eager to work but without the opportunities that foreign investment can bring to create jobs and build businesses.
“Yet there is also a case to be made that our two Commonwealth countries should try, with other members, to deliver more collectively. In 2015, I became the first head of a new Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council tasked with boosting trade and investment within the wider organisation.
“A renewed sense of Commonwealth solidarity would also be of enormous benefit to the large and vital diasporas, particularly from Africa and the Indian subcontinent, that live in Western Commonwealth countries such as Britain, Canada and Australia. These communities still maintain the strongest of cultural and family links with the countries from which they and their forebears emigrated, so visa restrictions and customs barriers must be reduced to fulfil the potential these connections could bring to the nations where they today reside.”
Over the weekend, President Buhari met with a select group of the Nigerian community in the UK, including world heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua. At the meeting President Buhari congratulated Joshua for regaining his world championship belt, as well as putting Nigeria on the world map again like Hogan Bassey.