By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Ambassador of Spain to Nigeria, Mr Alfonso Barnuevo Sebastian De Erico, has hinted that his country plans to set up manufacturing companies in Nigeria.
Mr De Erico made this known when he visited the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr Udoma Udo Udoma, on Wednesday in Abuja.
He said the country’s was taking this step so as to explore the economic potential of Nigeria and build business relations with the West Africa giant, which is Africa’s biggest economy.
Mr De Erico revealed that an official trade delegation has arranged a visit to Nigeria in May 2017, and will discuss with government agencies and familiarise itself with the business environment in Abuja between May 8 and 9.
Thereafter, he said, the delegation will hold a similar meeting with private sector operators in Lagos on May 10, 2017.
He also said it was time the two countries looked into the future to find more ways of being mutually beneficial to each other, particularly now that the country has a government that is sold to good governance principles.
“We appreciate the effort of Nigeria in the area of transparency and fighting corruption. We appreciate also its economic policies; and these will take the country forward. We are very supportive of Nigeria and its policies,” he added.
According to him, Spain has been investing in Europe over time and now needs to move its focus to Africa, with Nigeria as a preferred destination because of the country’s huge market potentials.
The ambassador pointed out that the number of Spanish companies already doing business in Nigeria was increasing, emphasising that the planned 2017 trip was very special as the focus would be on some very specific areas, including construction, energy and environment and water and sanitation.
He said Nigeria and Spain have enjoyed long lasting political and economic relations, adding that the time has come to deepen the relationship with further investments in some sectors of the Nigerian economy.
In his remarks, the Minister commended the contributions of Spain to Nigeria’s economy over the years, particularly in the oil and gas sector and said the Nigerian government was excited about the planned visit and assured it will be fully involved in ensuring its success.
According to him, the move was part of government efforts to attract foreign investment into the country to boost the economy.
“On the visit of Spanish companies to Nigeria, this is something that we will welcome. It is something we have been looking forward to; something that we are encouraging. We believe you have a lot to offer us and the Spanish companies will find Nigeria a convenient place to do business.
“We are improving our ease of doing business template and making sure that anybody who wants to do business in Nigeria has a much easier time,” Mr Udoma was quoted to have said in a statement issued by his media aide, Mr Akpandem James.
The Minister further said that, “We are improving on our visa system, to make it faster to get visa. We are giving extra support to our Export Processing Zones in terms of infrastructure, to upgrade them so that they will be suitable and convenient places for companies in Spain that would want to go into manufacturing in Nigeria.”
Mr Udoma told his guests that Nigeria was very interested in expanding its agricultural potentials, solid mineral exploitation and infrastructure development, particularly in the area of roads, rail and power.
He pledged the readiness of the ministry not only to support the proposal of bringing in the companies to Nigeria but to liaise with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, the Nigeria Investments Promotion Council (NIPC) and other relevant agencies of government to facilitate the project.
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