Franck Riester, French minister of foreign trade and economic attractiveness, says Nigeria needs to create an enabling business environment for companies to carry out their activities.
Riester spoke on Wednesday at a sideline event of the Paris Peace Forum titled ‘Nigeria International Partnership Forum.’
He said that conditions such as taxation and import duties need to be addressed for Nigeria to attract more French companies and investors.
“I must, of course, underline the excellent and growing economic collaboration between France and Nigeria. Nigeria is our first trade partner on the continent and a very strategic one in the oil and gas sector since 10 percent of our gas supplies comes directly from Nigeria,” he said.
“More than 100 French companies are present in Nigeria whereas almost 20 percent of French foreign direct investments in sub-Saharan Africa are directed to Nigeria. In 2019, the stock in Nigeria reached a very impressive amount of 9.7 billion euros.
“However, despite these promising initiatives, I believe conditions are yet to be met in order for France to achieve more in Nigeria’s economy. First French companies need your support, and what they need is what Nigerian companies in general also need which is a predictable and stable business environment for their activities.
“This means clear regulations of taxations, customs and import rules. They also need a smooth dialogue channel with your administration, they also need reliable infrastructure should it be in transport or energy. And last but not least, they need reliable access to do the foreign exchange, which is also currently a source of great concern for them.”
He said the two countries still have much to build together.
Riester, who encouraged other French companies to create partnerships and make investments in Nigeria, added that he observed that French companies in Nigeria are welcomed and are helping to create businesses to boost Nigeria’s economy.
“We will all agree that our trade relations remain below their true potential. I believe that we have much to build together. We are determined to give bilateral trade a new impetus. Nigerian people have entrepreneurial spirits and are also well known and certainly the most dynamic among peers in Africa.
“Of course, challenges remain, and I commend President Buhari for tackling those challenges a bit head-on. One of the purposes of today’s forum is to present to the French companies what initiatives have been taken to overcome those challenges and what results have been achieved under the guidance of President Buhari.
“In this context, my intent today is to also explain to Nigeria how France and its companies bring their contributions to Nigeria’s growth. In this regard please allow me to share my impressions after I visited Nigeria.
“What I saw in Nigeria was a thriving French business community of over 100 companies. French companies are in Nigeria to stay, they are here to create local value, and to create jobs in Nigeria, actually more than 10,000 of them.”