Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has encouraged Spanish investors to take advantage of Nigeria’s tax-exempt environment and unlimited quota of expatriates in the country’s free trade zones to boost trade and economic opportunities between the Nigeria and Spain.
Buhari gave the charge at a business forum jointly organized by the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, the Nigerian Ministry of Commerce and the Confederation of Employers (CEOE) in Madrid, Spain on Thursday.
He noted that for a number of decades Spain has been one of Nigeria’s most important trading partners.
According to Buhari, the country had been a major importer of Nigerian crude oil, pointing out that Nigeria’s exports to Spain stood at $4.8 billion in 2020 while Spain’s exports to Nigeria rose. from $97.2 million in 1995 to $517 million in 2020.
However, he pointed out that much more could be done to increase the volume of trade.
According to the President, the Business Forum provides a good opportunity to explore how to achieve this despite the current difficult times for the global economy.
He said: “We are open to expanding the collaboration with Spain and in order to encourage the inflow of private capital, we have put in place tax incentives for investment, including:
“Three to five years of tax holidays for companies in what we consider pioneer industries; tax-free operations and no restrictions on expatriate quotas in our free trade zones;
“Capital allocations for farming, manufacturing, and engineering, among others.
“Being in partnerships with trusted local and overseas partners who have well-established networks and understand the dynamics of the economy and the country is one of the identified keys to success in Nigeria.
“Today provides a platform for Spanish businesses to connect with credible Nigerian partners.
“I hope everyone here will build relationships that will result in increased trade and investment flows between Nigeria and Spain.”
Buhari also advocated for increased collaboration between African nations and Europe to mitigate current and potential supply chain challenges stemming from the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.
“But I have always had a firm belief that there is no crisis without an opportunity and a solution that comes with it.
“Increased collaboration with African nations may well be what Europe needs to mitigate current and potential supply chain challenges and improve our economic opportunities.
“Historically, the focus has been on the Nigerian oil sector, but Nigeria is home to a wide range of other sectors that hold tremendous potential.
“We are Africa’s largest economy and our consumer market of over 200 million people offers a range of attractive opportunities in sectors such as agriculture, health, light manufacturing, infrastructure and technology,” he said.
According to him, Nigeria has a number of other notable mineral resources including coal, gold, bitumen, iron ore and uranium.
“However, our current focus is to add value to our natural resources before exporting,” he added.
On his administration’s efforts to move beyond historical reliance on crude oil for government revenue and foreign exchange inflows, the president said he had succeeded in driving its diversification and putting the economy on the path to sustainable and inclusive growth through an open, rules-based and business-oriented way of doing business.
He took the opportunity of the meeting to thank the Spanish government for donating 4.4 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine to Nigeria.
“This is an example of being your brother’s keeper and in that same spirit of brotherhood, I would like to assure you of our administration’s continued commitment and determination to collaborate on matters of collective interest such as security , health and our shared prosperity,” he said.
In her speech, Spain’s Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, said that Nigeria had become Spain’s strategic trading partner over the past five years, adding that Spain was the Nigeria’s second largest foreign trade destination.
In his speech, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo,
Nigeria and Spain have had very cordial relations since the 1960s.
He said: “I have always felt that there are many similarities between the people of the two countries; we are also warm and passionate; we love hobbies like football and dancing and even your national dish of paella has a lot of similarities to Nigeria’s own national dish, jollof rice.”
According to him, the Nigerian government will be ready to support companies that wish to enter the Nigerian market for investment, saying the country is fertile for investment in various sectors including security, infrastructure, technology and science.
“Nigeria is also home to a wealth of investment opportunities in, but not limited to, the following sectors: security, infrastructure, green economy and technology.
“Nigeria is at the start of a tech boom with growing interest in our fin-tech and agro-tech spaces.
“This is an area in which I see a lot of possibilities for collaboration with Spanish companies.
“Agriculture and food production are other big areas and I am happy that a big Spanish company is already very active in Nigeria in this area.
“Nigeria is open for business and the Federal Government is ready to partner and support Spanish companies wishing to enter our market.
“We have started exploratory discussions with the European Union on an investment facilitation agreement, and we are open to direct agreements and partnerships with Spain.
Nigeria’s Ambassador to Spain, Ademola Seriki, who also spoke at the event, expressed hope that the two countries would explore business opportunities in multiple fields, thanks to the engagement provided by the forum. .
The business meeting attracted participants from Nigerian and Spanish business and political communities