•Badenoch says British government willing to help reduce deficit through export
•Visits first independent school in W’Africa
•Uzoka-Anite says with ETIP, it’s more money for Nigeria
Chiemelie Ezeobi in Lagos and Michael Olugbode in Abuja
Governments of Nigeria and the United Kingdom will today sign the Enhanced Trade Investment Partnership (ETIP) Agreement to not just boost its trade volume but also reduce market access and regulatory barriers discouraging people from investing in either of both nations.
The ETIP, which is just a step below the Free Trade Agreement between both nations, is the first-of-its-kind partnership between the two nations.
The agreement would be signed by Nigerian Minister for Trade and Investment, Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite and UK Minister for Business and Trade, Kemi Badenoch, as part of the latter’s maiden visit to Nigeria since assumption of office in the UK parliament.
At a reception for Badenoch last night at Eko Atlantic City, Lagos by Uzoka-Anite, Badenoch said the UK government was determined to help Nigeria reduce her trade deficit by increasing exportation.
This was as Badenoch, yesterday, visited the first British independent school in West Africa, Charterhouse School building on the UK government’s commitment to supporting Nigeria’s desire to offer high quality education.
In an interview with THISDAY afterwards, she said: “The UK sees Nigeria as a country of enormous potential. We have a long-standing history, and one of the best ways that Nigeria can reduce that deficit is by increasing its export.
“So, we are looking at what we can do in order to help Nigeria export more. This is very good, especially when there are foreign exchange difficulties, among other things.”
On the ETIP agreement that would be signed today, she clarified that it was just a step below the Free Trade Agreement but with the overarching objective to boost trade for both nations.
According to her, “It is basically an agreement between two countries that looks at how we can cooperate in areas such as financial services and legal services by ensuring that we are creating the right business and investment environment between the two countries.
“Looking at how, perhaps, we can reduce market access barriers, or regulatory barriers that are discouraging people from either investing in Nigeria or the UK.
“We are looking at what we can do in order to create mutual benefits in the economies of both countries.
“The partnership framework is one that we expect businesses to take off and take advantage of. Today, I have been busy meeting with British businesses based in Nigeria.
“We want to do more, and perhaps, there are some challenges or requests. This partnership is the forum for them to actually engage with the government of both countries. We can help them meet up with their objectives.
“For instance, this morning, I was at Chatham House School, which is the first UK independent school and the biggest in West Africa.
“What that is going to deliver is education export from the UK side, and also ensuring that Nigerians, who want that top class education don’t have to spend foreign exchange, for example, or send their children away.
“These sorts of things, sometimes, need a framework such as the ETIP in order to help establish how we can encourage these sorts or businesses.”
On the difficulties in operating businesses in Nigeria, she said, “One of the things that I have been discussing today is the difficulties operating businesses in Nigeria.
“There are global economic challenges that every country is facing. Almost every country on the planet is dealing with very high inflation or inflation that is much higher than what we need to do, and these are the sort of things that would discourage investments.
“But there would be country specific issues as well. So,tomorrow (today), apart from signing the ETIP with the minister of trade and investment, I would be meeting other ministers as well to see how we can help create a good business environment for British business which will probably benefit other countries as well.”
Earlier, Dr. Uzoka-Anite, said the ETIP meant more money would flow into Nigeria “and hopefully, we will see more trading happening between the two countries.
“We have been doing a lot of trade together in the past, but now it’s about to go higher. So now we are going to make the UK and the UK is going to make us the more favoured partner in trading and investment.
“I hope this is going to be your first choice of destination for all investment and trade related activities. Thank God she is also a Nigerian by origin, and we are really happy to have her back home.
“The ETIP, like I said, is a groundbreaking landmark achievement and signifies a whole lot of things for the business community. The businesses are the ones who are going to drive the investment and trade, so, I think it is going to be quite exciting.
“As you all know, this is part of the president’s eight-point agenda, which is to deepen relationships, increase investment and trade, boost the economy, and take all of us out of poverty, and also deepen our relationships with other countries but especially with the UK.”
Meanwhile, yesterday, Badenoch toured the construction site of the new campus of the British school located in Lekki Ajah, Lagos, with the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Girls Education, Helen Grant.
Recent talks between the UK and Nigeria had helped to remove restrictions to Transnational Education investment in Nigeria worth around £50 million – enabling UK Higher Education institutions build TNE partnerships with their Nigerian counterparts, with hope that this first major investment into Nigeria’s education sector would pave the way for more.
According to a statement by the British High Commission, the school aimed to deliver a strong academic curriculum with day and boarding facilities, and with a focus on intra and extra-curricular activities including sports, arts, and science.
It would open its doors to primary and secondary school students from Nigeria and beyond starting September 2024.
Badenoch said: “It’s brilliant to see the progress of the construction work at the Charterhouse site – the first UK independent school in West Africa.
“The UK education system is rightly renowned around the world, and I hope the school will deliver a world-class learning experience to many students who choose to study here in Nigeria.”
Head/Director of Education, Charterhouse School, John Todd said,“We are honoured to welcome the UK Secretary of State for Business and Trade to Charterhouse Lagos as we showcase the amazing facilities we are building.
“As Nigeria’s first British independent school, we are proud of our British heritage through our partnership with Charterhouse UK and reaffirm our commitment to delivering world-class education in Nigeria.”
According to the statement, Badenoch while in Lagos, will meet with other key businesses including Standard Chartered Bank, Avanti Satellite Communications and IHS Towers.
He’ll also meet the British development finance institution, and the British International Investment (BII) to discuss trade and investment opportunities for businesses on both sides.