Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council Chairman Lord Marland of Odstock has urged the UK to make Nigeria one of its post-Brexit trade allies.
In a statement to The Telegraph, Marland said that Nigeria, alongside other Commonwealth countries such as Singapore and Malaysia, offered major investment opportunities to UK investors.
It has the largest economy in Africa and the fifth largest economy in the Commonwealth, with a total estimated GDP of US$480 billion.
Commonwealth markets account for approximately 30% of Nigeria’s exports, with India alone accounting for 15%.
Combined, Nigeria and South Africa account for 70% of Commonwealth African trade.
After South Africa, Britain is Nigeria’s second-largest trading partner, with the relationship worth an estimated $5.3 billion a year.
Lord Marland described the UK’s departure from the EU’s custom union as one of the country’s key negotiating strengths, as it would provide the freedom to stimulate trade through lower tariffs and negotiated trade barriers.
The benefits, added the Chairman, would extend beyond the Commonwealth network, as a further potential free trade deal with Japan would put pressure on German car manufacturers who rely on exports to the UK.
The combined gross domestic product (GDP) of Commonwealth nations is expected to reach $14 trillion by 2020, with intra-Commonwealth trade estimated to be worth over $1 trillion.
The CWEIC, which facilitates trade and investment across the 53 Commonwealth states and supports governments and the private sector to promote economic activity, aims to grow intra-Commonwealth trade through the development of investment opportunities.
Lord Marland was speaking ahead of the Commonwealth Business Forum, which will be held for the first time in 20 years alongside the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), taking place in London in April 2018.
It will convene 800 senior business leaders and 30 Heads of Government, with discussion focusing on business and growth, harnessing Commonwealth technology and innovation, mobilising an export economy, creating a new attitude to sustainable business, and attracting inward investment.
Lord Marland stressed that Nigeria was keen to buy a multitude of UK products, adding: “If the UK wants to initiate something, there are one or two really encouraging, optimistic places on the horizon to start a block for a commonwealth trade zone.
“You’ve got the big populations such as Nigeria, which is going to be 320 million people – bigger than the United States – in under 10 years.
“They love British products…It’s a huge consumer market.
“Fundamentally there is a lot of disposable wealth.”
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