Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Ketil Karlsen, has pegged the trade volume between the EU and Nigeria at €25.3 billion.
Karlsen made the disclosure in Abuja at a press briefing in preparation for the forthcoming Europe Day celebration on May 9.
Karlsen said the figure was an increase of 27 percent over that of 2016, which was 19.9 billion euros.
About 50 percent of the 2017 trade volume, he added, came in favour of Nigeria.
“About 25.3 billion Euro was traded in 2017. There is clear significant surplus in the benefit of Nigeria. Of the trade volume, around 50 per cent more is actually benefitting Nigeria,” Karlsen said.
He further said the EU remained the most significant trade partner of Nigeria, even as he said trade and investment was an integral part of Europe partnership with Nigeria.
Karlsen further said although about 30 percent of Nigeria’s external market is Europe, there is a renewed move to exploring ways to expand the trade ties.
The EU, he stated, is currently putting everything in place to provide an additional market access for Nigerian products in Europe and beyond.
This, Karlsen said, is to boost job creation and job opportunities for the teeming population.
Karlsen also spoke on the EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), which Nigeria is yet to sign.
He said the EU would continue engaging Nigerian government and other stakeholders on the benefits of the agreement.
“We are partnering with the Nigerian government, private businesses and other stakeholders to promote this and to continue the dialogue on the economic partnership agreement.
“What we want is to engage with everybody to stress the potential benefit that we consider in this kind of engagement in opening the market access, providing technical assistance.
”This is to make sure that it does not become hostile to industries and the opportunities for youth employment, but opportunities to develop industries through access to market,” Karlsen stated.
On EU’s developmental activities in the country, Karlsen said the EU supported water and sanitation projects in 14 states to the tune 353.5 million euro, reaching and benefitting more than four million people in the country.
He added that the EU was also expanding its humanitarian support in the northeast to include job creation for the displaced populations.
“We need to think of the northeast in economic terms and job creation. This is part of our foreign policy.
“In the period of 2015 to 2017, we have provided 144.5 million euro in humanitarian aid, mainly in the north east. In 2018, we have set aside 34.5 million euros in provision of food aid.
“We are working in Borno state and currently in dialogue with Yobe state on how we can expand our support to the area.
“Altogether, we have set aside 257.5 million euro in our support not only for humanitarian, but also in our long term development in that region,” Karlsen said.