By Cynthia Ezekwe
The Nigerian government and the Kingdom of Netherlands have engaged in an economic consultation to modernise the existing bilateral investment treaty between both countries aimed at boosting economic interests and opportunities.
Evelyn Ngige, the permanent secretary, federal ministry of industry, trade and investment, stated this at the first round-table negotiation on the investment promotion and protection agreement between Nigeria and the government of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Abuja.
The permanent secretary, who was represented by Gertrude Orji, the director, investment promotion department in the ministry, noted that the continuous collaboration between both countries will impact positively on their economies, adding that beyond signing the agreement, It is also important for both countries to monitor the implementation and execution of the agreement.
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Robert Dool, the chief negotiator on investment promotion of the Kingdom of Netherlands,noted that the modernization of the bilateral investment treaty will facilitate economic relations between the two countries.
He described the relationship between the Netherlands and Nigeria as one of the pillars of socio-economic development, economic cooperation and integration, adding that the Netherlands has taken the initiative to look at their investment promotion in Nigeria to see how they can make the agreement more reflective in the world.
Dool stated that the negotiating team has engaged in the modernization of economic relations between the two countries and the promotion of trade which was originally signed in 1992.
Also, Patience Okala, director legal, Nigerian investment promotion council, who is the lead negotiator on the Nigerian side urged both countries to expand the investment dimension of their treaties, as part of efforts to review trade.
Adamu Lamuwa, the permanent secretary, ministry of foreign affairs, said that discussion would also be opened on the establishment of a joint bi-national commission.
Lamuwa, who was represented by Bolaji Akinremi, director, trade and economic relations in the ministry, noted that the economic consultation was timely as rebuilding the nation’s economy is the focus of the new administration, adding that the meeting held by both countries would foster productive dialogue on Nigeria-Netherlands economic cooperation, the investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA), the Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement (ADTA), and other legal frameworks.
Lamuwa stressed that Nigeria is willing to explore further areas of economic cooperation with the Netherlands in the agricultural value chain, secular economy, renewable energy, waterways management and water scarcity, including the oiil and gas, special economic zones, African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and trade facilitation in Western Africa, Science, Technology and Innovations (STI) education and health.
“Also Mines and Metallurgy, Arts and Crafts, Tourism, Creative and Entertainment Industry, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Aviation, Anti-Money Laundry and Counter Financing Terrorism (AML/CFT) / General Security matters, Digital Economy and FINTECH,’’ he added.
Lamuwa pointed out that despite the long standing bilateral relations between Nigeria and the Netherlands, there was no joint/bi-national commission agreement between the two countries, stating that negotiation for the establishment of a joint commission has been inconclusive since 1987.
“Against this background, the government of Nigeria would like to reopen the negotiation for the establishment of a joint/bi-national commission agreement, as this would further consolidate and boost the relations between the two countries,’’ Lamuwa said.
On her part, Hanneke Schuiling, vice-minister for foreign trade of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, noted that the Dutch government attaches importance to strengthening the bilateral economic relationship with Nigeria, its fifth trading partner in Africa.
Schuiling said that updating and modernising the investment agreement between both countries would create a more stable and predictable investment environment, adding that Netherland sees a high potential in four areas, which includes agriculture, IT, healthcare and renewable energy.
She explained that the current treaty was signed in 1992, and both countries have experienced significant changes in their approach to international investments which can be adopted into a new treaty., adding that it is important to modernise the treaty to reflect these changes, and foster stronger economic relations between the two nations.”
Furthermore, Bashir Jamoh, the director general of Nigeria Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA) said that the agency looked forward to partnering with the Netherlands as a maritime nation to develop Nigeria’s blue economy to become the nation’s main source of revenue.
“What we are advocating now is the issue of the blue economy, and already, the Nigerian Government has inaugurated a committee to look into ways of harnessing our blue economy,’’ Jamoh said.