By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
The French Minister in charge of Foreign Trade and Attractiveness, Mr. Franck Riester revealed Tuesday that
Nigeria has lost a whopping $2.2 billion in bilateral trade with France as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Riester made the revelation after a meeting with Nigeria governors on Tuesday in Abuja.
The Minister disclosed that the bilateral trade amounted to a total of $4.5 billion in 2019, but shrank to $2.3 billion in 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to him, “France is a major financial partner for Nigeria, being the second bilateral creditor of Nigeria after China. Thanks to the involvement of French Development Agency (AFD).
“AFD engaged more than €2 billion in the last 10 years in over 35 development projects.
“France will also dedicate financing and capacity building in the health sector in some Nigerian states,” the minister stated.
France, he added, is also one of the major partners of the COVAX initiative, noting that last February, French President, Emmanuel Macron warned that the failure to share vaccines would entrench global inequality.
According to Riester, the President proposed sending part of the coronavirus vaccine supplies owned by European countries, the United States, China and Russia to developing countries.
The minister explained that there are about 100 French companies presently in Nigeria investing in the health, energy, environment logistics and other secrors, and with over 10,000 employees.
He pointed out that a €3.5 billion “Choose Africa” conference on President Emmanuel Macron initiative will be opened in Lagos, to support start-ups and SMEs in Africa, which Nigerian entrepreneurs have already benefited from.
The Minister, who is on a two-day visit to Nigeria, explained that the visit followed on the priorities set by French President Macron during his official visit to Nigeria in July 2018 and his willingness to change the narrative of the relations between Africa and France.
The French Minister will have several official meetings in Abuja and Lagos, to stress the importance of the bilateral economic relation.
The Plateau State governor, Mr Simon Lalong, who represented the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said the meeting was fruitful,.
Lalong added that the Minister would meet with business community and other stakeholders today.