By Adedapo Adesanya
- Promises Easier Visa Policy
- Vows to Compete with China, Others to Boost Trade
- To Cut Aid Linked to Coal for Climate Protection
The United Kingdom is looking to Nigeria and other African countries as the next ideal partner to boost its international trade as it finalises its Brexit dealings this year.
At the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London on Monday, British Prime Minister, Mr Boris Johnson, promised African leaders from 21 countries better investments, an environmentally friendly development aid and visa reform.
The Prime Minister said that the UK was just one in a long list of countries currently wooing African countries, including China, Turkey and France, but said that the country had many potentials in the areas of financial services, education, and technology.
To further woo the African delegates, Mr Johnson announced that there would be two policy changes to enable this. First is the immigration system which he said would be fairer.
It was also noted that the UK would be ending all its aid directly linked to coal or coal-fired power stations. Seen as a climate friendly gesture, Mr Johnson has invited President Muhammdu Buhari to the 2020 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) to be held in Glasgow, Scotland in November.
These moves are to help the country compete with other global powers to tap into the African market as evident in the trade numbers which showed that UK’s two-way trade with Africa in the year ending in the second quarter of 2019 was $46 billion, while in comparison, Africa’s two-way trade with China, the continent’s top trading partner, was $208 billion in 2019.
This is not surprising as Africa is showing economic momentum as the recently launched African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTFA) offers many benefits and last year, economic growth slowed in all geographic areas except Africa, according to reports by the United Nations (UN) in its annual World Economic Situation and Prospects for 2020.
In his address, the UK chief parliamentarian noted that the partnership was long overdue, but said that the British government and the businesses will work hard to convince African nations to see the country as a business partner.
“We have no divine right to that business,” he said. “This is a competitive world. You have may suitors,” he added.
During his meeting with President Buhari on the sidelines of the summit, he also noted that Nigeria was part of the UK’s investment lookout, pointing out that has its second largest trading partner, the country was committed to supporting Nigeria’s growing economy through investment and shared expertise.
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