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LAHORE: High Commissioner of Nigeria Abioye Muhammed Bello has said that the Nigerian government has introduced E-visa on arrival facility for Pakistanis and hoped that Pakistan will also introduce the same facility for Nigeria.

He was speaking at a meeting at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry. LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir presented the address of welcome and shed light on the mutual trade and economic ties. LCCI Senior Vice President Mian Rehman Aziz Chan and Vice President Haris Ateeq also spoke on the occasion while Executive Committee Members Shahzad Butt, Momin Ali, Ali Afzal, Malik Muhammad Nadeem and former EC Member Zafar Mahmood Chaudhry were also present.

The High Commissioner said that Nigeria is importing textile products from India and China. Pakistani textile products are best in quality and have a great scope in Nigerian market. He said that there is a lack of expertise to run the industries in Nigeria. Pakistan should avail this opportunity through joint ventures.

He said that Nigeria will extend cooperation to the private sector of Pakistan for joint ventures with their Nigerian counterparts. He said that dissemination of trade related information holds key importance in strengthening mutual trade relations.

LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir said that Nigeria is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world as more than 500 languages are spoken in Nigeria and more than 250 ethnic groups reside peacefully in Nigeria.

He said that Nigeria and Pakistan are key members of Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Commonwealth Republics. Both the countries are maintaining good diplomatic and economic relations.

"We are aware of the economic importance of Nigeria", the LCCI President said adding that it is the largest economy in Africa with GDP in excess of $500 billion and also the biggest oil producer in Africa. Lahore Chamber has always stressed upon exploring avenues for unlocking our trade and economic potential with the major economies in the African Continent.

Mian Nauman Kabir said that according to the trade statistics by the State Bank of Pakistan, our Exports to Nigeria in 2020-21 stood at $72.6 million as compared to $96.5 million in 2019-20. On the other hand, Pakistan's imports from Nigeria in 2020-21 dropped to $57.3 million as compared to $242.41 million in 2019-20.

He said that our bilateral trade volume in 2020-21 dropped to around $130 million from the figure of $339 million in 2019-20.

The LCCI President said that the things have started to improve in this financial year in terms of bilateral trade. In the first quarter of the current financial year (July-September 2021), Pakistan's exports to Nigeria stood at $20.13 million as compared to $4.6 million in the same period last year. Similarly, Pakistan's imports from Nigeria in the first quarter of current financial year (July-September 2021) stood at $43.9 million as compared to $18.6 million in the same period last year.

Mian Nauman Kabir said that there is considerable potential for both countries to take the trade volume to at least above one billion dollars. For this, we need to enhance trade and economic cooperation in the fields of Light Engineering products, Surgical Instruments, Pharmaceuticals, Automotive Parts, Sports Goods and Value Added Textiles etc. Pakistan has a blossoming IT sector and Nigeria can certainly from our expertise in this sector. We would also welcome Joint Ventures with Nigerian counterparts to explore the tremendous potential of Tourism sector in Pakistan.

The LCCI President further stated that since the fear caused by COVID-19 is losing its intensity and the world has learnt the way of living with it, there should be regular exchange of export oriented delegations between Pakistan and Nigeria. LCCI will welcome the support of your good office in this connection.

Mian Nauman Kabir said that a sound banking channel is direly needed for enhancing the bilateral trade.

LCCI Senior Vice President Mian Rehman Aziz Chan and Vice President Haris Ateeq said that the authentic information about duty structures and legal requirements in African countries is not easily available on web and other sources. The leading chambers of both countries should come forward and play a solid role in exchange of useful information.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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