Nigeria is expected to save about $1.2 billion from milk importation annually following the agreement it signed on Monday with The Netherlands.
This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of a bilateral meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and Prime Minister Mark Rutte, where both leaders agreed that Nigeria and the Netherlands would continue to work together to improve bilateral trade volumes as well as private sector investments.
Prime Minister Rutte, who is on a two-day working visit to Nigeria, is leading a trade delegation of eight Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Dutch multinationals currently operating in Nigeria with huge investment portfolios in the agriculture, finance, oil and gas sectors. He noted that The Netherlands is Nigeria’s third largest trading partner.
After bilateral consultations between delegations of both countries, President Buhari and Prime Minister Rutte witnessed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on dairy chain development between Royal FrieslandCampina WAMCO and the Government of Niger State.
The MoU was signed by Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State and Mr Ben Langat, Managing Director, FrieslandCampina WAMCO, Plc.
The agreement on dairy chain development is expected to save Nigeria about $1.2 billion from milk importation annually.
A communiqué issued at the end of the meeting said the two leaders reviewed the progress that has been made with implementing the Memorandum of Understanding on deepening the bilateral relations between the two nations concluded and signed by the respective Foreign Ministers in The Hague in July 2018.
“We welcome the steps that have been made to increase bilateral economic cooperation and are happy to see higher levels of bilateral trade volumes as well as private sector investments,” the communiqué signed by Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Netherlands, Oji Ngofa and the Deputy Head of Mission, Netherlands Embassy in Abuja,” Ewout-Jan de Wit said.
“The contribution of Dutch private businesses, both global players and small, micro and medium enterprises, to the Nigerian economy is duly noted.
‘‘Investments by the Netherlands Investment Bank FMO and the Dutch Good Growth Fund are contributing to better access to finance and energy for the private sector.
“Nigeria confirms its commitment to continuing reforms for a conducive business and investment environment while the Netherlands pledges to continue assisting Nigeria for an increase in agricultural productivity especially horticulture, seed, and sustainable palm oil production,’’ it added.
President Buhari and Prime Minister Rutte also reiterated their commitment to the fight against human trafficking, appreciating the close collaboration between both countries in supporting the victims.
Noting with concern the challenging security situation in the West African sub-region and Nigeria, The Netherlands acknowledged the sustained efforts of Nigeria in the fight against the northern Islamist insurgency and in countering violent extremism.
“The Netherlands will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need, in particular women and girls, in order to mitigate the impact of insecurity and displacement,” the communiqué said.
Rutte, at a joint press conference with President Buhari, assured that a current situation where Nigerians have to go through the French or the Belgian embassy to get visa will be reviewed.
He said, “I know this is a sensitive issue. While I was preparing for this visit, I cannot give you a definitive answer, I can only tell you that I am very much aware of this issue and there is a particular problem here and that is that the Netherlands is part of the European Schengen area and the visa we use together in the various countries. And that is why the Belgian and French embassies are taking care of the visa administration being handled for the Netherlands and at the same time there are also crapy treatment available. I am very much aware of this and technology will probably help us in the immediate future as we look into a more proper solution.
“So, I cannot give you any answer yet but it is very much in our agenda because we know this is a very sensitive issue both for us and Nigeria.”
On what The Netherlands was doing to support Nigeria in addressing the humanitarian situation in the North East east, the Prime Minister said: “We discussed at length the situations both in the Netherlands as well as in Nigeria and also what is happening in the different regions. And we try to be involved as much as possible. As we have this long standing relationship between our two countries we have a very active embassy here, there is a very active ambassador in the European and the Dutch side and from the Nigeria, we can work together and we can deal with these issues, some of these things are very practical. For example we discussed in 2018 at length one issue, the Lake Chad question and we what we can do together. We hosted a meeting in the Netherlands this year on Lake Chad and what we can do in the immediate future. From the most treacherous issue, what can we do in the immediate future or use some of the Dutch expertise in terms of water, you know you have to call on us if it is too much or not enough, if it is too clean or not too clean we can help you.
“Out of this meeting came some beautiful recommendations on how to deal with the Lake Chad issue, the Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon issue. One is what can we do to work on the regional economy, secondly, what can we do to maintaining the water which is still here and thirdly, use the water supply in such a way that it supplies to the local community. And as the president was saying I think about 30 million people are depending on the lake itself and the economy coming out of it.
“Secondly, we can learn from you, this is two ways because you have been dealing with this issue, we can get a lot of insights to the issues we are facing as a country.”
Rutte said the visit being his first was very impressive.
He said: “It’s my first visit to Nigeria and like I said at the lunch meeting, I am very impressed. Everything in this country is huge, is big. It’s 20 times the size of the Netherlands and more people live in Lagos than the whole of my country.
“In the tete a tete, the discussions we had with the business leaders, it is very clear that despite the fact that there are so many differences that we have a lot to offer each other be it politically, economically or culturally.
“Politically, Nigeria has taken its responsibility as one of Africa’s most important countries by playing a leading role in the region and by this way expanding democracy in West Africa. I have deep respect for the way Nigeria is doing this including the leadership of the president.
“I also want to express my appreciation for Nigeria’s active role in promoting international law in the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Our countries, Nigeria and Netherlands share the believe that international law contributes to a fair and safer world.
“We are also working together on the issue on migration that is why the minister of migration is part of my delegation and my country is looking forward to continuing this excellent partnership.
“One of the focuses of this visit is economic cooperation. Both Nigeria and the Netherlands stands greatly to benefit from this economic cooperation. There are strong economic ties between our countries, I am proud to say that The Netherlands is Nigeria’s third biggest trading partners as an exporter and importer of Nigerian products and there is still a lot of room to expand our trade. And this is one of the issues we discussed in our bilateral meeting as well as the CEO lunch that we just had.
“It is therefore no accident that Representatives of eight majors Dutch companies – agro, oil and many other sectors in Dutch society have joined me on this trip. Because, they see the many opportunities offered by having closer ties with Nigeria which is Africa’s biggest economy. An economy that has a lot of potential to grow even more. Therefore we have just signed communique to deepened our political and economic partnership. The future of Dutch, Nigerian relations is full of opportunities. President Buhari and I have met several times in The Hague, New York, Nigeria and many other places, we will work hard to make sure that together, we cease those opportunities and I am looking forward to the future together, in the Netherlands and Nigeria and I can also say I look forward to working together with President Buhari because we have really struck a relationship which I value highly.”