By David Ejiohuo
The Netherlands is now Nigeria’s biggest trading partner in Europe, so says Nigeria’s ambassador, Orji Ngofa, who says Nigeria is working hard to improve it.
Ngofa made the declaration when he passed through the Port Harcourt International Airport and spoke with newsmen. The Eleme-born ambassador said the United Kingdom is no longer Nigeria’s biggest trading partner in Europe.
He talked about plans to boost the trade partnership but feared that consistent soiling of Nigeria’s image was a threat to trade expansion.
The list of Dutch companies in Nigeria is long, including Shell, Heineken, APM Terminal (one of the largest port and terminal operators in the world), Peak Milk, Unilever, etc. Many said the volume of trade between the two countries has continued to rise since 2003 and that the Nigeria-Netherlands Chambers of Commerce is one of the oldest in Nigeria.
Records indicate that trade between the Netherlands and Nigeria was as high as N80.9 Bn in the second quarter of 2015. The Dutch Growth Fund is said to be one of the strategies Netherlands is using to stimulate Nigerian economy. “It is open for Nigerian businessmen and women to access’, so said an official few years ago.
Now, Ngofa disclosed that Nigeria has had a robust trade and investment relationship with the Dutch. The Dutch, he pointed out, were coming into Nigeria to invest because they understand the situation in the country better.
Ngofa said; “Yes, they are in terms of trade, investment, and FTI and we are working to improve on it as to make it more beneficial”.
Nigeria and Dutch, he said have had good bilateral relationship but regretted that the country’s battered image was becoming a source of concern now. “This is because we have a reputational challenge that makes them think that all of us are the same”.
The Nigerian Embassy in Netherlands, he pointed out, was making efforts to correct the wrong impression and our efforts are yielding some good results because the Dutch people have respect for our intellectual capabilities and resilience.