Nigeria, ECOWAS, major economies adopt Abuja Statement

Nigeria, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), World Trade Organisation (WTO), Friends of Investment Facilitation for Development (FIFD) and participants at the High Level Policy and Private Sector Trade and Investment Facilitation Partnership Forum have adopted a declaration titled “The Abuja Statement” at the close of the two-day event, which saw the participation of over 30 African countries as well as major world economies.

The Forum was opened on 2 November by Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo with the support of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah.

The Abuja Statement on “Deepening Africa’s Integration in the Global Economy through Trade and Investment Facilitation for Development” was unanimously adopted after two days of intensive deliberations between policy makers and the business community from around the world.

The Statement reaffirmed that trade and investment are inseparable and remain indispensable “twin engines” for economic growth, modernization and development of Africa.

It reiterated the need to scale up investments in “connectivity” – infrastructure - ports, transport corridors and telecommunications networks to enable Africa participate and benefit from today’s integrated and digital global economy. It supported the ongoing Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) negotiations in Africa.

The Statement said: “One of the central objectives of the High Level Forum was to examine how the WTO could contribute to facilitating the required investment –as well as trade by developing multilateral approaches to improving transparent, cutting red tape, streamlining procedures and strengthening international cooperation with the aim of expanding sustainable pro-development investment.”

Furthermore, the Statement noted: “Participants underscored the importance of enabling developing and least developing countries to increase their participation in global investment flows, including by mobilizing resources needed to address their technical and capacity constraints.”

The Statement called for a successful 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in December to strengthen the WTO as a global public good that remains central to the welfare, prosperity and development of all its members.

The Statement further emphasized that policies, institutions and best practices are required for expanding the required investment in the domestic economies of African countries, the region and continent.

In his reaction, Minister Enelamah said: “The new narrative of Nigeria out there: that the country is positive, pro-development, pro-business and pro-enabling environment for business.”

On his part, the Director General/Chief Negotiator of the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN) Ambassador Chiedu Osakwe stated that “This High Level Forum on Trade and Investment Facilitation held in Abuja, was an acknowledgment of Nigeria’s economic and trade policy leadership in West Africa, Africa and the global economy.”

The High Level Forum was co-hosted by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, ECOWAS in partnership with FIFD. Members of FIFD coalition are Nigeria, Argentina, China, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Hong Kong China, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, Canada, the European Union and Qatar.

Other participants at the Forum were WTO DG Roberto Azevedo; Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Mukhisa Kituyi, African Union (AU) Commissioner for Trade and Industry Albert Muchanga, President of ECOWAS Commission Marcel Alain de Souza and CEOs and business leaders from Hauwei, Procter and Gamble and Vodacom.

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