Nigeria-Brazil business relations: the journey so far speech delivered
by the Nigerian Ambassador to Brazil H. E. Vincent A. Okoedion at
the Nigeria-Brazil business summit
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
13-15 august 2013
gives me great pleasure to welcome everyone, on behalf of the President,
Federal Republic of Nigeria, H. E. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, to this
Business Summit. In a special way, I want to welcome Nigerian officials
and business leaders who have come all the way from home to attend
this Business Summit.
2. The Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr.
Olusegun Aganga, would have been here himself, but he could not
because he had to accompany the Nigerian President whose visit to
another country coincided with the dates of this Business Forum.
I came from home yesterday and the Minister asked me to explain
his absence to his Brazilian counterpart, Mr. Fernando Pimentel.
3. The first edition of this Business Forum was held about two years
ago. The present second edition is being held under the theme, “Gauging
the Advancement of Nigeria-Brazil Business Relations: A Retrospect
and Prospect“. I want to commend the efforts of Mr. Olusegun
Akinruli, the President of Nigeria-Brazil Centre for Business in
Belo Horizonte, who is a co-organizer of this event. Mr. Akinruli
works closely with the Nigerian Embassy in promoting the flow of
trade and investment between Nigeria and Brazil. Due to his success
in this assignment, early this year, he was appointed to represent
the Embassy as Honorary Liaison Officer in the State of Minas Gerais.
He is an illustrious son of Nigeria. We are proud of his dedication
to the cause of business, and more business, between Nigeria and
4. Furthermore, I want to pay tribute to two Brazilian trade institutions.
These are the Federation of the Industries of the State of Sao Paulo,
FIESP, and ApexBrazil. The Nigerian Embassy maintains excellent
relations with these organizations. In the case of FIESP, it has
always been keen to open its doors to the Embassy, and at our request,
to organize events which give Nigerian officials, business owners
and traders the platform to interact with their counterparts in
Brazil. In the case of ApexBrazil, it has on many occasions invited
the Embassy to participate and take advantage of trade fairs, exhibition
and conferences held in Brazil. I want to use this opportunity,
not only to commend ApexBrazil, but also to advise this notable
trade promotion institution, to support Brazilian SMEs to participate
in trade fairs organized in Nigeria. As information in this regard,
the Abuja International Trade Fair is organized in September while
the Lagos International Trade Fair is organized in November. Through
the support of ApexBrazil, Brazilian companies could be encouraged
and assisted to show-case their products in Nigeria, and introduce
Brazilian products to the Nigerian markets.
5 Today, Nigeria is Brazil’s biggest trading partner in Africa.
In 2003, trade between the two countries amounted to USD2 billion.
It increased to USD8 billion in 2011. It reached an impressive turnover
of USD12 billion in 2012. What are the products that are exchanged
between the two countries? In the case of Nigeria, the exports to
Brazil consist mainly of crude oil and related products. In the
case of Brazil, the products are mainly industrial goods, such as
automobile and spare parts, as well as some agricultural products
such as rice and sugar. But there are prospects for the expansion
of this trade. In the case of Nigeria, it is our desire to export
not just crude oil to Brazil but also, non-oil products. We believe
that there is a market in Brazil for Nigerian made goods such as
fashion wears, books written by Nigerian authors translated to Portuguese
and even Nigerian food items that are consumed in Brazil, including
yams, plantain and cassava flour. In other words, Nigeria is ready
to take advantage of its cultural affinity with the Brazilian people
to diversify and increase the range of goods and services it exports
6. I must also mention that there is a market in Brazil for Nigerian
films. In this connection, let me point out that Nigeria has the
third largest film industry in the world called Nollywood, after
Hollywood and Bollywood.
7. In the last two years, there has been strong re-engagement between
Nigeria and Brazil in the area of trade and investment. The Nigerian
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment has made three visits
to Brazil since last year. He has been here on assignments to promote
business relations with Brazil. On two occasions, he was here to
hold meetings with Brazilian companies and investors. In April this
year, he was here to hold discussion with his Brazilian counterpart.
In one of these visits, he signed an MOU with Eletrobras, to enable
this major Brazilian company to participate in projects in the Nigerian
power sector. In June last year, many Brazilian CEOs and investors
converged in this city to receive the Nigerian President and to
discuss doing business in Nigeria at a landmark business forum.
Since that event, many Brazilian companies have visited Nigeria.
A few of them have since set up offices in Nigeria.
8. It is recalled that the Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff,
came to Nigeria on a State Visit in February this year. What was
remarkable about this visit was that she came with a large business
delegation. Also remarkable was that it led to a ground-breaking
MOU that established a relationship of Strategic Partnership between
Nigeria and Brazil. The MOU established the first ever high-level
Strategic Dialogue between Nigeria and Brazil. The inaugural meeting
of this Strategic Dialogue will be held in Brasilia in November
this year. The meeting will be an occasion to discuss the expansion
of trade relations between Nigeria and Brazil.
9. In the last two years, one of the strategies that the Embassy
has used was to encourage the exchange of trade delegations between
Nigeria and Brazil. The Embassy has encouraged many Brazilian companies
to visit Nigeria so that they could prospect for business. More
important, so that they could be exposed to the opportunities available
in sectors such as oil and gas, construction, agric-business, electricity
generation, manufacturing, mining as well as trade and tourism.
It was to this end that ANDRADE GUTIERREZ and QUEIROS GALVAO, two
notable Brazilian infrastructure conglomerates, visited Nigeria
in August 2012. Since then, Andrade Gutierrez has gone ahead to
establish itself as a player in the Nigerian market. There are other
Brazilian companies that have since followed the footstep of Andrade
10. Furthermore, in March 2013, in my capacity as Ambassador, I
led a 3o-man Nigerian trade delegation to the Cotrijal International
Agribusiness Trade Fair in Rio Grande do Sul. In May 2013, the government
of the State of Rio Grande do Sul reciprocated by organizing a special
trade Mission to Nigeria, the first ever by any Brazilian state.
I have mentioned these exchanges of trade delegations as instances
of the bold and practical steps that were taken on both sides to
expand and consolidate the business relations between Nigeria and
11. I want to inform this forum that some of the constraints that
impeded trade and investment between Nigeria and Brazil in the past
are now being removed. One of the most important of these constraints
was the absence of direct flight between Nigeria and Brazil. The
airspace between Nigeria and Brazil was closed when Varig, a Brazilian
airline, stopped its service to Nigeria in 1994. The stoppage of
this air service was a big blow to business owners particularly,
traders on both sides. Since that time, travel from Brazil to Nigeria
and vice versa had become an uphill task for business owners in
the two countries. It entails spending one or two nights on the
way. Also, many people could not afford the exorbitant fares. All
these affected in no small way the expansion of travel, trade, tourism
and investment between the two countries.
12. Today, the good news is that there are airlines in both Nigeria
and Brazil ready to commence air services on the Nigeria-Brazil
air route. In the case of Nigeria, ArikAir will take advantage of
the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) that was created in
2005 to fly from Lagos to Sao Paulo. In the case of Brazil, GOL
airlines will operate a service from Recife in Northeast Brazil
to Lagos, in Nigeria. Ladies and gentlemen, I want you to imagine
the relief that the restoration of direct flight will bring to business
owners and traders in Brazil and in Nigeria. Let me also say this,
that Nigeria and Brazil are the biggest economies in their respective
regions, that is, West Africa and South America. Therefore, the
resumption of direct flight between the two countries will mean
a lot in terms of opening the markets of the two regions.
13. Recently, Nigeria and Brazil took an important step to remove
a significant stumbling block in the way of business relations between
the two countries. They both approved for a Nigerian Consulate to
be opened in Sao Paulo. The new Mission will not only look after
the welfare of Nigerians in that part of Brazil, more important
for our meeting today, the Consulate will become the second after
the Embassy in Brasilia, and the most important center where Brazilians
would receive visas, to facilitate their travel to Nigeria as well
as their business with Nigeria. Nigeria appreciates the fact that
Sao Paulo is not only the hub of business activities in Brazil;
the city is also the center of business for the whole of the South
America region. In view of this, the new Nigerian Consulate in Sao
Paulo will also handle trade enquiries, and provide information
to Brazilians on doing business in Nigeria, and how to enter the
14. Brazilian companies have a lot to benefit from the Nigeria emerging
market. Nigeria has the highest population in Africa. The country
has 167 million people including a middle class of over 40 million.
In the past five years, the economy has posted an average GDP growth
of over 7%. The present government of President Goodluck Jonathan
has reviewed incentives regime towards developing sector- specific
national policies on investment, through the creation of an enabling
environment that will engender efficiency, productivity and profitability.
15. Nigeria and Brazil have over the years developed strong business
relationship which can be attested to by the presence of Petrobras
in Nigeria since 1996. Nigeria alone accounted for more than half
of all Brazilian imports from Africa in 2010. I wish to congratulate
the government of Brazil for the formation of the “Africa
Group” in November 2011, and for instituting financial mechanisms
to assist Brazilian companies wanting to transact business in Africa.
I wish to re-assure you, our business partners in Brazil that the
Nigerian government is fully in support of our endeavour towards
attracting business and investment to Nigeria. The government is
also committed to the creation of favourable and conducive atmosphere
for the thriving of further economic activities between Nigeria
16. I want to use this opportunity to extend my profound appreciation
to all participants and to invite you to rekindle your interest
and resolve to invest in Nigeria by joining me on a scheduled visit
to Nigeria as the guests of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and
the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment on dates convenient
for you. This would afford your organization the opportunity to
assess the strength of the Nigerian market and have the opportunity
to open discussion with government officials as well as operators
17. Thank you for your attention.