Presidents Jonathan and Kenyatta Urge African Leaders to Boost Intra-African Trade

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday in Nairobi, called on African leaders to do away with policies that could obstruct intra-African trade and unity of the continent.

The President made the call when he addressed a joint news conference with his Kenyan counterpart, Uhuru Kenyatta, at the Kenyan Government House.

The joint news briefing took place after a bilateral meeting and the signing of various agreements and Memorandum of Understanding between Kenya and Nigeria.

Mr. Jonathan reiterated the need for African countries to work together to move the continent forward.

He said African countries must go beyond primary production and servicing industries abroad with their raw materials either from forest produce or solid minerals.

“We must work hand in hand to add values to what we produce and encourage intra-African trade. If you go to Europe, trade within the EU nations is about 70 per cent, thereby, telling the rest of the world that they can survive without going outside the EU.

“In Asia trade between the Asian countries is about 50 per cent, also telling the world that they can stay alone.

“But in Africa, trade between us has dropped to as low as 11 per cent, that is a way of telling the world that we cannot stand alone except the rest of the globe come to assist us in one way or the other,” he said.

He noted that administrative constraints in term of visa restriction, consular and immigration issues were among factors inhibiting trade and free movement of goods and services within the continent.

He said that regional blocs like the East African Economic Community, SADEC and ECOWAS must come up with good policies that will encourage trade and free movement of goods and services.

“We are looking forward to the day when the whole of Africa will be an economic bloc where we can move just like the EU arrangements.

“That is the only way we can create wealth for our people and we will no longer be talking of poverty alleviation and so on,” he said.

Mr. Jonathan noted that the co-operation between Nigeria and Kenya was critical because of the strategic positions both countries occupy in the continent.

“Cooperation between Nigeria and Kenya is critical, because, Nigeria being at the West Coast on the Atlantic Ocean, Kenya at the East Coast on the Indian Ocean; we believe that if there is a big handshake from the East to the West, Nigeria and Kenya working together we will not only help our two countries but be a platform to liberate Africa,” he said.

He said his state visit to Kenya was critical to deepen economic ties between the two countries.

Mr. Kenyatta who spoke in same vein, said the visit of President Jonathan was an indication of a strong brotherly relation between both countries.

He said the agreement signed would strengthen the bond between the two countries, increase trade and investments and create better environment for culture and tourism.

In a communiqué read by Kenyan Cabinet Secretary on Trade and Foreign Affairs, Amina Mohammed, she said both leaders agreed to set up a Nigeria-Kenya Bi-national Commission to deepen cooperations.

She said to increase trade between both countries, both leaders directed the relevant authorities in their countries to identify measures required to eliminate tariff and non tariff barriers to trade.

Ms. Mohammed said that the leaders also directed that the relevant authorities of the two countries to expedite the conclusion of an agreement on immigration matters. She said both leaders rededicated themselves to fighting Trans-border crimes, human trafficking, Maritime insecurity and piracy.

“The two Presidents condemned the heinous acts being committed by terrorists and criminal gangs including Al-shabaab and Boko Haram.

“They also renewed their countries determination to fight terrorism along with the rest of the international community,” she said.

Agreements on Visa Exemption for holders of Diplomatic Passports and Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, on conclusion of agreements on double taxation and the promotion and protection of investments were signed.

Also signed were MoU on Agriculture, livestock and fisheries cooperation, MoU on Tourism Cooperation, Trade and Investment cooperation and Oil and Gas Cooperation.

The Minister of Interior, Aba Moro said that the agreement signed had addressed the issue of illegal deportation of some Nigerians from Kenya.

“The issue of some Nigerians deported was raised. The two Presidents agreed that the Ministers of Interior of the two countries should further discuss the issues involved and treat cases on their individual merits .

“We are further going to explore other avenues with a view to ensuring that justice is seen to be done to these illegally deported Nigerians to forestall further occurrence,” he said.

Earlier at the bi-lateral meeting, President Jonathan had laid a wreath at the Mausoleum of the First President of Kenya, late Jomo Kenyatta.

Originally published on September 6, 2013 on Premium Times

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