China-Nigeria trade tops USD6bn

Trade between China and Nigeria has passed the USD6 billion mark, with more growth coming.

A report by the Oxford Business Group this month notes that data released in October by Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows China was the country’s second-largest source of imports for the first six months of 2011.

It says about N737bn (USD4.57bn) of goods entered Nigeria from the Asian giant during the first two quarters of the year, equivalent to about 11% of total imports.

Exports to China for the same period were smaller, at N390bn (USD2.42bn), or about 6% of the total. Nonetheless, China was overall the second-largest trade partner for Nigeria during the first two quarters of 2011, second only to the US.

China already accounts for roughly 25% of Nigeria’s inbound foreign direct investment FDI), equivalent to roughly USD6.1bn in 2010, according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). In November Nigeria’s minister of trade and investment, Olusegun Aganga, travelled to China and met with Fu Ziying, China’s vice minister of commerce, and Weng Jieming, the director of Chongqing Liangjing New Area, a 1205-sq-km sub-provincial area in south-west China dedicated to industry, manufacturing and logistics.

During his meeting with Ziying, Aganga said that establishing a manufacturing zone for Chinese products in Nigeria would help correct the trade imbalance that exists between the two countries, with producers able to benefit from the availability of raw materials and a ready market for Chinese goods.

The Chinese are already involved in the Lekki Free Trade Zone (FTZ), which is being developed on a 165-sq-km site located to the southeast of the city of Lagos. Lekki FTZ is being developed by a joint venture between CCECC-BEYOND International Investment and Development Company (a consortium of several Chinese firms) and various Nigerian interests, including the Lagos state government, and aims to attract foreign manufacturers who target both the domestic and regional markets.

However, China’s involvement in Nigeria, as in the rest of Africa, is not without its problems. Agreements between the two countries have been criticised for not being transparent and for not including sufficient detail. Several of China’s announcements for plans to build railway systems, power plants and refineries in Nigeria have not yet come to fruition.

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