On February 9th, Nigerian newspaper DAILY SUN published an article titled “China Opens Door Wider to Nigeria” written by Ambassador of China to Nigeria Dr. Zhou Pingjian. The full text goes as follows:
“The Export-Import Bank of China has approved $1.275 billion (about N408 billion) loan for the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line project.” – breaking news widely covered by Nigeria media recently. According to reporting, the Managing Director of Nigerian Railway Corporation Mr. Fidet Okheria said on January 29 that with the approval of the funds by the Chinese Exim bank, all was set for the commencement of the construction of the modern rail line from Lagos to Ibadan.
No surprise to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, I believe. When he was here in Abuja for an official visit last month, Foreign Minister Wang highlighted the achievements of bilateral cooperation between China and Nigeria with striking statistics.
“Nigeria and China are strategic partners; our relations have been developing well. China has already invested or financed a total number of $22 billion projects here in Nigeria, another $23 billion projects are on-going. In addition, we are also following up another over $40 billion of investments which is in the pipeline,” he said.
“Compared with the size, population and market of our two countries, our cooperation still have large potential to be deepened,” he added.
Indeed, the purpose of Foreign Minister Wang’s visit to Nigeria was to implement the important agreements and cooperation reached between the Chinese and Nigerian presidents and to help work closely with Nigeria to ensure that the outcome of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Johannesburg Summit are well implemented here in Nigeria.
The approval of the loan shortly after Foreign Minister Wang’s visit to Nigeria speaks volumes. China is set to open its door even wider to Nigeria and elevate the mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation to a new height.
In the coming five years, China is expected to import $8 trillion of goods, attract $600 billion of foreign investment, make $750 billion of outbound investment, and Chinese tourists will make 700 million overseas visits. All these will create a bigger market, more capital, more products and more business opportunities for other countries including Nigeria. An open door allows both other countries to access the Chinese market and China itself to integrate with the world. China will keep its door wide open and not close it.
As a matter of fact, just as China stands ready to open its door wider to Nigeria and other countries, Nigeria is making real efforts to improve ease of doing business towards diversifying its economy and taking advantage of global opportunities.
On January 20 this year, Nigeria submitted the instrument of acceptance of World Trade Organization’s Protocol on Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) on the sideline of World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. With this, Nigeria became the 107th WTO member state to ratify the agreement. Giving its position as the largest economy in Africa, the recent step Nigeria took is widely interpreted as a timely big boost to economic globalization.