…Ambassador Bertrand in Rivers, says among tops interests
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…Siat, Belgian agric giant runs 16,000ha palm estates in state
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Ben Eguzozie, in Port Harcourt
Belgium, Western Europe economic power, with $503bn GDP size and world’s 26th biggest GDP, is set to increase its investments in Nigeria, Daniel Bertrand, the country’s ambassador to Nigeria, told journalists in Port Harcourt, Rivers State after visiting Governor Nyesom Wike.
Belgium is among the top five countries which lead as Nigeria’s biggest import trade partners. According to statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria’s imports by country of origin in Q3 2019 showed 31.34 per cent of goods valued at over N1,221 trillion were imported by Nigeria in the period under review.
But Daniel Bertrand, newly posted Belgian ambassador to Nigeria, who had been touring some states in the country – Lagos, Cross River and now Rivers, noted recently that Nigeria was not well known in Belgium, a reason he has been embarking upon visits to parts of Nigeria to promote the host country back home.
After a closed-door meeting with Governor Wike at Government House, Port Harcourt, the Belgian envoy said his visit to Rivers was propelled by the concern to see the extent of operations of Belgium companies in the state.
A number of Belgian companies are involved in agriculture in Rivers, and now intends to invest in gas. Siat Nigeria Ltd, a subsidiary of Siat nv., at the end of 2011 acquired from Rivers government the assets of Risonpalm (an oil palm estate) which comprise 16,000 hectares of old oil palm plantations, plus the entire social and industrial infrastructure of the complex in Ubima and Elele, all in Ikwerre local government area of the state. Both estates are due for replanting over the next 10 years.
“This is my first visit to Rivers State. I am here to visit the State and to visit Belgium companies existing in this area. There are already some Belgium companies existing in Nigeria with facilities in Rivers State,” said Bertrand.
He informed that his country explores some opportunities to have its facilities in gas and agriculture.
Governor Wike had discussed a number of business and investment interests with the new Belgian ambassador to Nigeria.