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‘How we influence trade between Nigeria, Germany’

The Nigerian-German Business Association was set up to ensure better trade collaboration between both countries. In its over 30 years of existence, the association has pioneered initiatives and collaborated with stakeholders to promote bilateral relations between both countries.  In this interview with Bukola Aroloye, the association’s president, Mr Gbenga Adebija, is optimistic that cementing a mutually beneficial relationship between both countries will boost Nigeria’s economy. Excerpts:

What is the feeling like with your new appointment?

It is a tremendously exciting challenge to know that I have a role to play in managing bilateral business relations between the largest economy in Europe and the largest economy in Africa. In terms of significance and impact, therefore, this is thus far the most significant role in my career.

Having been in the private and public sectors for years, how will you compare the two sectors?

I believe that as with most public sectors around the world, the Nigerian civil service needs to catch up with the private sector in terms of the key parameters used to evaluate both sides. However, there are definitely encouraging signs especially in Lagos State and several other states around the country. I also believe the trend of appointing high-ranking private sector executives into the public sector has been of significant benefits towards professionalising standards in the civil service.

How will you describe the business relationship between Nigeria and Germany?

All stakeholders in Nigeria and Germany are working collaboratively to maintain a harmonious and mutually beneficial relationship between both countries. The Nigerian German Business Association has been at the forefront of this objective since 1986 and this remains a key priority for us.

What is the volume of trade between Nigeria and Germany?

This is obviously subject to several socio-economic variables and so there has been upswings and declines observable on an annual basis. For instance it was about 5.4 billion euros in 2104, declined to 2.9 billion euros in 2015 and it was 605 million euros in 2016.  The focused objective of the NGBA is to ensure significant and sustainable growth and in trade volumes now and in the future.

How do you intend to foster the business relationship between Nigeria and Germany?

Since 1986  when it was established, the NGBA has pioneered initiatives and collaborated with relevant stakeholders to ensure conducive atmospherics for good bilateral relations between both countries.  We organise trade delegations, exhibitions, business to business meetings, trade  facilitation and several other platforms for beneficial stakeholder engagement  in both countries.

In what ways or areas has the Nigerian-German Business  Association influenced the Nigerian business terrain?

I would say we have influenced business in both countries because of our cardinal objective to facilitate trade and investment between both geographies. Some of the biggest German brands are here in Nigeria such as  Bayer, BASF, Lufthansa, Commerz Bank AG,  Merck, Julius Berger, Siemens and Deutsche Bank. The benefits to the Nigerian economy is tremendous is terms of job creation, revenue generation, growth in GDP, technical and management capacity development and cutting-edge technology. The NGBA is also focused on improving the volume and value of exports from Nigeria to Germany.

What commodity / service is mostly traded between the two countries?

Oil has been the most traded but we are trying to grow non-oil exports by volume and value from the Nigerian side while the Nigerian economy stands to benefit from the excellent array of world-class German brands from various sectors such as Manufacturing, Energy, Electronics, Automobile

How easy is it for Nigerian exports to get into the German market?

It is becoming easier and this is an area the NGBA and our associates like the German Delegation for Industry and Commerce, the German Consulate and relevant government agencies are working together to facilitate a continuously improving and export-friendly business process for the benefit of exporters and other entrepreneurs.

Foreign investors’ confidence in doing business in Nigeria has waned over the years.  What efforts are you going make to restore this confidence?

Although it is not our sole responsibility, the NGBA definitely sees this as a major priority. Apart from sustainable stakeholder engagement by way of advocacy and current and previous activities since 1986, there are several potentially impactful initiatives in partnership with public and private sector stakeholders to improve the perception of the Nigerian business sector in the international business community as well as foster a culture of integrity amongst Nigerian entrepreneurs.

With your experience at the global level, how can indigenous companies compete with their foreign counterparts?

There are several factors such as access to finance, access to markets in relevant geographies, capacity, business strategy, business process and socio-economic policies of the operating market. Succession planning  is also very important because here in Nigeria, businesses rarely survive its founders. There are so many German family-owned businesses which have been in existence for hundreds of years. We can certainly learn from their example.

What should government do to ensure more foreign companies are encouraged to do business in Nigeria?

The atmospherics of any business environment is vitally important and I would say there is reason for modest optimism. We now have a stable democracy, security is improving across the country, government is focused on improving Ease of Doing Business and embedding relevant socio-economic policies to establish an enabling environment. I would also further advocate that these policies should be continuously reviewed to ensure they are as business-friendly as possible. It is also encouraging to see a gradual paradigm shift in a few areas in government from strict regulatory and enforcement to that of collaborative facilitation. Most of the key factors to drive Foreign Direct Investment are at various stages of maturation.

Where do you see the Nigeria -German Business Association in five years?

The NGBA is an organisation with an unwavering commitment to the pursuit of excellence and so we will remain at the vanguard of excellence in the promotion of bilateral trade relations.

The post ‘How we influence trade between Nigeria, Germany’ appeared first on The Nation Nigeria.

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This post was syndicated from The Nation Nigeria. Click here to read the full text on the original website.

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