Boosting Trade, Investment Surest Way Of Lifting Millions Out Of Poverty – Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari says the surest and most sustainable way of getting people in Commonwealth countries out of poverty is through trade and investment.

The President said this on Wednesday in a keynote address at the Commonwealth Business Forum at Guildhall, London.

According to him, trade and investment facilitation will generate the resources for sustainable development, ease of doing business and regional integration that expands markets with safeguards against injurious trade practices from third parties.

He also pushed for more inclusive growth and empowerment of women and youths as that would make business among commonwealth countries easier.

The Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) which had the theme ‘Making Business Easier between Commonwealth Countries’ is part of events at this year’s Commonwealth Heads of State Meeting, CHOGM- 25.

President Buhari believes Nigeria has since keyed into the objective and is already championing the cause through events such as the ‘High-Level Trade and Investment Facilitation Forum for Development’ convened by Nigeria in November 2017 in Abuja in partnership with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

He also believes the Commonwealth should lend support to activities such as the Abuja event which focused on ‘Deepening Africa’s Integration in the Global Economy through Trade and Investment Facilitation for Development’.

He added, “To underscore Nigeria’s commitment to spreading prosperity throughout the Commonwealth, in the past six months, Nigeria Co-Chaired with the United Kingdom, the “UK All-Parliamentary Group for Trade out of Poverty” (APPG-TOP). The Report of this Commonwealth Inquiry Report was launched on 3rd April 2018.

“Nigeria affirms its commitment to the principal message from this Commonwealth Inquiry Group that Nigeria co-chaired with the UK. The surest, most sustainable way to lift millions of people out of poverty across the Commonwealth is through boosting trade and investment. We believe that we, as Leaders in the Commonwealth, should grasp the opportunity and agree on a major new focus on trade and investment for inclusive development.”

Ease of Doing Business

President Buhari also shared the experiences of Nigeria regarding the ease of doing business reforms which are being carried out under a 60-day National Action Plan.

He said, “Stage one focuses on eight areas that make it easier to register businesses, obtain construction permits, get credit, pay taxes, have electricity, trade across borders, facilitate entry and exit of people and register property. These reforms were codified in an Executive Order. Transparency and efficiency across government were mandated and made enforceable. These reforms have resulted in improvements: reduction in cost and time and greater transparency particularly for micro- small and medium-sized enterprises.

“Stage two is focused on 11 areas, improving on Stage 1. This stage also covers new areas, including contract enforcement, simplifying the procurement process, and trading within Nigeria. Action in this and subsequent stages will revolve inter alia, around reputational issues.”

The President said these efforts have been acknowledged in the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ Report published in November last year, which moved Nigeria up 24 places and recognised the country as one of the top 10 most improved economies in the world.

He, however, said more work needs to be done as we enter the next stage.

“In developing countries, labour and industry are concerned about distortions in trade policies that result in subsidised products which have contributed to exports dumped in developing economies. These have had bad effects in the form of job losses,” he said.

“Growth is not yet inclusive and remains elusive. There are downside risks about disruptions to trade and investment. Global and regional markets have been considerably rattled by the risks of trade wars. Concerns over climate change are unabated and are increasing. There are tasks and duties on all sides.”

Avoiding trade wars

The President also emphasised the need for a healthier business relationship among countries.

He said, “If we are to make business easier between our countries and going beyond the Commonwealth, we must avoid trade wars and work collectively to preserve the global trading order, support regional initiatives as well as support domestic structural reforms that focus on the priorities of individual countries.”

The President also believes collective will is critical to success in improving the ease of business.

“If there is a collective Commonwealth Commitment to the Ease of Doing Business, we shall spur growth, multiply wealth and expand employment opportunities. These objectives will be accelerated by trade and investment facilitation,” he said.

President Buhari used the opportunity to call on the Commonwealth Business Forum and prospective investors in the Nigerian economy, to participate in the 2018 “UK/Nigeria Trade and Investment Forum” at the London Stock Exchange.