By NBF News
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The Federal Government of Nigeria has revealed that it is holding talks with its United Kingdom counterpart on the need for firms in the UK to set up crude oil refineries and cocoa processing plants in Nigeria.

Speaking at a parley with the business community in Lagos, Minister for Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga said that the government is set to enter into a strategic partnership with a number of countries, including the UK to deepen its programmes and initiatives aimed at increasing trade and investment in Nigeria.

'Deepening trade is another focus,' he said, 'it is not just about increasing the volume of trade to help achieve objectives this time. Going forward, we will be more strategic and work with our partner countries to deepen our programmes and initiatives.'

He continued further, 'An example is the import substitution programme for petroleum products, fertilizer, rice, automobile, sugar, to mention a few. I have already begun work in this area.

'During the U.K. Prime Minister's visit to the country, I interacted with my UK counterpart. Having noticed that two of our major exports to the UK are crude petroleum and cocoa, and as a fallout of the UK's Prime Minister's comment on the need for Africa to have free trade,

I suggested the need for the UK government to encourage the UK companies refining the crude petroleum and processing the cocoa in UK to come and set up refineries and cocoa processing companies here in Nigeria and export to the rest of Africa and other parts of the world from here.'

Aganga explained further that the government, as parts of efforts towards ensuring that Nigeria compete favourably in the global community, is currently reviewing its law and policies, making them investor-friendly.

The federal government, he added, is considering setting up a competitiveness council and it has secured the cooperation of the World Economic Forum, the Mexican Competitiveness Council, the private sector and a foundation in Nigeria in that regard.

He assured manufacturers of high quality products in Nigeria of a ready market for their products, especially as the Ministry of Trade and Investment is currently working on a consumer bill and  a Credit Guarantee Scheme for locally produced products.

According to Aganga, the major focus of the government is increasing the productivity of local companies and it intends to partner with the organized private companies to remove barriers impeding productivity and closely monitor the impact of monetary and fiscal policies on businesses in the country.

He said, 'Our aim will be to increase the contribution of businesses to the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, of the nation with some targets in mind.

'We are also focusing on aggressive growth of the SME and industrial cluster sector, how to drive skill acquisition with renewed vigour, how to introduce innovation in our businesses to increase productivity and finally how to strengthen the purchasing capacity of the consumer.'

Speaking further, Aganga explained, 'Some initiatives and programmes such as the Backward Integration, Local Content and the Commerce 44 programmes to mention a few, are being reviewed and repackaged to improve their effectiveness.

'We want to replicate our success in the replicate our success in the cement sector in other sectors of the economy.'