Shettima hosts UK envoy, seeks creation of binational commission to boost trade



Vice President Kashim Shettima has called for stronger ties between Nigeria and the UK to boost trade between the two countries.


Shettima made the demand on Wednesday when Richard Montgomery, British high commissioner to Nigeria, paid him a courtesy visit at the presidential villa, Abuja.


The vice president said there is a need for Nigeria and the UK to enhance the longstanding relationship they have had by establishing a bi-national commission.


“I will urge you to facilitate the setting up of the Nigeria-UK binational commission. That binational commission can be the driver for accelerating the business relationship between our two countries,” Shettima said.


“We need to ramp up the trade between our two nations, taking into cognizance our proximity. There is no nation that we are close to than the UK and our trade represent less than five percent of the volume of our import and export.


“Most definitely, we are going to create an enabling environment for businesses to flourish in this country.”


Shettima emphasised the importance of economic reforms to position the country’s economy for growth, especially the removal of the petrol subsidy.


 “This is just the beginning because it was fait accompli to withdraw the fuel subsidy. We either get rid of the fuel subsidy or the fuel subsidy get rid of the Nigerian nation,” he said.


“In 2012, we spent $10 billion on fuel subsidy alone. Last month, we were purportedly consuming 67 million litres per day, but after the removal of the subsidy, it drops to 41 million barrels per day nearly 40 percent off. So the whole subsidy regime was opaque, ridden with a lot of inconsistency.”


On the fiscal policy, Shettima said the previous multiple exchange rate regime was laden with corruption which brought about the proliferation of so many schemes.


“So, obviously we have no option but to collapse the exchange rate regimes into one. In the coming weeks and months, we are going to make more pronouncements on how to reposition the Nigerian economy and make it vibrant for business,” he said.


On security, the vice president said the country is adopting both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches towards addressing the challenges.


“Yes, we have to strengthen our security architecture so that we can be in a stronger bargaining position with the insurrectionists, Boko Haram terrorists and kidnappers,” Shettima said.


He added that as part of the efforts of the Tinubu administration towards addressing insecurity, the government will soon roll out different socio-economic intervention programmes and initiatives in the north-east that will facilitate empowerment and social inclusion of the vulnerable groups in the regions.


“So, I can assure you that we will pursue both kinetic and non-kinetic solutions to our challenges,” he added.


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