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Country should diversify to enhance trade

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By Abiodun Okunloye

A trade deficit of ₦1.41 trillion was recorded in the fourth quarter of 2023.

According to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Nigeria’s economy must continue diversifying to strengthen its economic growth. After engaging with Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, and fellow women at the Nigerian Women in Leadership gathering in Abuja, Okonjo-Iweala spoke to the press. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that Nigeria recorded a trade deficit of ₦1.41 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2023. During that period, Nigeria’s trade deficit was fuelled by imports totalling ₦14.11 trillion and exports amounting to ₦12.69 trillion.

During the event, the WTO leader emphasised the importance of increasing efforts to attract investments from international and local sources within the country. Okonjo-Iweala emphasised the importance of establishing a favourable environment to attract foreign investment. She also highlighted that such conditions would motivate the government to allocate funds to specific industries and manufacturing sectors. She said the country has a substantial market; however, a market of 1.4 billion is even more significant. They should explore the potential of utilising the African continental free trade area in a surplus situation. These tasks are their top priorities and must be completed.

Iweala urges the people of Nigeria to ensure equal participation for all.

Speaking further about the primary goal of the gathering, Okonjo-Iweala noted that the conversation with the duchess included topics like the challenges women have when attempting to assume leadership roles and how they might overcome them. During the discussion, Okonjo-Iweala further stated the need for women to improve their standing in society and become self-reliant. She emphasised the many challenges women face when striving for positions of leadership and the importance of increasing the representation of women in leadership roles within both state and federal governments.

She asked about the measures that can be taken to enhance women’s positions in the country. Women’s representation in the National Assembly is disproportionately low. There has never been a female governor, let alone any higher positions for women. Both men and women need to support this cause, as the exclusion of women cannot continue. The entire population must come together to ensure equal participation for all. They go through various subjects, including proposing strategies for women to navigate leadership challenges effectively.

Better infrastructure and easier business will attract foreign investors.

Having already achieved leadership positions, the women in the meeting were not focused on reaching the highest level as they were already there. Okonjo-Iweala noted that the standout moment of the event was the duchess’s sharing of her personal experiences. Hearing about her journey and the challenges she overcame to establish herself as a leader was inspiring. Her story resonated with many in the room, serving as a reminder of the importance of perseverance and determination in the face of adversity.

The country can implement several key strategies to increase its trade surplus and attract investment. The government can focus on diversifying its economy beyond oil and gas by investing in other sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, and technology. This will reduce the country’s reliance on oil exports and create new opportunities for trade with other countries. Likewise, improving infrastructure, reducing bureaucratic barriers, and enhancing the ease of business will make the nation a more attractive destination for foreign investors.

Related Article: FG sets to promote investments in Nigeria

Lastly, the Nigerian government can actively engage in trade negotiations and partnerships with other countries to expand their market access and increase exports. Strengthening diplomatic relations and trade agreements with key trading partners will help open up new opportunities for the country’s businesses to sell their products abroad. By prioritising economic reforms, improving innovation, and creating a more business-friendly environment, it can boost its trade surplus, attract more foreign investment, and drive sustainable economic growth.

Related Link

WTO: Website

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