Give Nige­ri­ans more trade in SA – plea

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

NIGE­RIAN Vice-Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan said yes­ter­day trade with South Africa was un­fairly tilted in favour of the lat­ter.

Jonathan spoke as the two largest economies in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa kicked off cel­e­bra­tions to mark a decade of bi­lat­eral ties un­der the aegis of the Nige­ria/South Africa Bi­Na­tional Com­mis­sion.

He said there were con­cerns that bi­lat­eral re­la­tions had yielded enor­mous ben­e­fits for South African en­trepreneurs in­vest­ing in Nige­ria.

By con­trast, he said, there were lit­tle or no op­por­tu­ni­ties for Nige­ri­ans to do real busi­ness here.

“Nige­ri­ans have ques­tioned the very ra­tio­nale for the com­mis­sion if its ben­e­fits are so skewed and if South African au­thor­i­ties are en­gaged in al­leged acts of dis­crim­i­na­tion against Nige­rian vis­i­tors, res­i­dents and busi­nesses in South Africa,” he said.

Busi­ness peo­ple from the two coun­tries opened talks yes­ter­day to seek ways of lev­el­ling the play­ing field.

South African Deputy Pres­i­dent Kgalema Mot­lanthe is ex­pected to ad­dress the fo­rum to­day.

Of­fi­cial sources in South Africa say more than 100 South African com­pa­nies op­er­ate in Nige­ria – a jump from only four be­fore 1999.

The largest are in bank­ing, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, re­tail and en­ter­tain­ment.

No fig­ures for Nige­rian com­pa­nies in South Africa were read­ily avail­able.

South Africa, one of the con­ti­nent’s largest oil con­sumers, gets most of its crude re­quire­ments from the Mid­dle East, yet Nige­ria is one of Africa’s two top oil pro­duc­ers.

Deputy Trade and In­dus­try Min­is­ter Bongi Maria Ntuli said Nige­ria, Africa’s most pop­u­lous coun­try, was South Africa’s sec­ond-largest trad­ing part­ner on the con­ti­nent.

The sus­pected in­volve­ment of Nige­ri­ans in crimes in South Africa – from in­ter­net scams to the pro­duc­tion of fake South African iden­tity cards, pass­ports, im­mi­gra­tion and mar­riage doc­u­ments – is one of the sore points in re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries. – Sapa-AFP

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