ABUJA – In its bid aimed at boosting its trade relations with Nigeria,India has opened its oldest industrial associations in Nigeria. The Indian trade organisation,otherwise known as ASSOCHAM India,with over 450,000 members and branches in 10 countries in Africa,was formally launched yesterday,in Abuja. Speaking at the occasion which held in Transcorps Hilton,Abuja,Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelama, said Nigeria was working to ensure that bilateral and trade relations between the two countries were strengthened.
The minister, who said such efforts was for the benefits of the two countries,said the development was necessary in view of the fact that Nigeria was the most important economic power in Africa while India,on the other hand was Asia’s business destination hub. He said the setting up of ASSOCHAM in Nigeria was very timely,noting that the development came at a time Nigerian government was implementing several reforms aimed at diversifying the economy to free it from over dependence on oil.
Speaking while declaring the event open, the president of ASSOCHAM, Sunil Kanoria, expressed delight with Nigeria for the opportunity to establish the organisation in the country,saying the development would in no small measure boost economies of the two countries.
“Apart from our trade and business linkages, what unites our two economies is the nature of our societies, our past as well as present challenges that we have to deal with. “Both Nigeria and India are developing economies with large multi-ethnic, multi-religious populations and both share a colonial past. “We share common perspectives on international politics, social and development issues as manifested in different fora like the United Nations and World Trade Organisation, etc. ” Both shared the solidarity of the Non Aligned era, both have aspirations of regional leadership and to be significant on the world stage,” Kanoria said.
Kanoria said ASSOCHAM was established to serve as catalyst and facilitator for Indian businesses abroad, through policy advocacy especially in favour of small and medium enterprises.
He said such were the driving forces for economic development of any nation, adding that the need to set up the association in Nigeria was long overdue as Indian companies were playing vital roles in Nigeria spanning across steel development, pharmacy, ICT, super speciality hospitals, manufacturing, construction and retailing among other areas. In his own remarks, the Indian High Commissioner (designate) to Nigeria, B. N Reddy, said as the fastest growing economy in the world, India was a country that Nigeria, being the largest economy in Africa would benefit from, both in trade as well as other opportunities.
According to him, India, like Nigeria, faces challenges of youth employment but has through the initiation of several schemes, is tackling those social issues, adding that India is ready to partner with Nigeria in more areas for the benefit of both countries. A Nigerian based Indian businessman, Biju Koshy, was formally decorated as the chairman of the Association of Chambers of Commerce (ASSOCHAM).