Australia would like to see more exchange with Nigeria
What does Nigeria and Australia have in common?
We have many things in common. We can start with something basic like a shared language; which is English. We also have shared institutions which derive in large part from our shared colonial heritage and aspirations for our people when it comes to peace and prosperity. Nigerians and Australians love to travel overseas and if you go to many places overseas the two types of foreigners you’ll likely find are Australians and Nigerians. Australians are famous for spending time in the U.K as they grow up and Nigerians like to do the same thing. More importantly, we share that spirit of wanting to get out and explore.
What is the volume of trade between the two countries?
It fluctuates from year to year. Historically, Nigeria has always been one of our largest trading partners on the continent. And the trade balance has been in Nigeria’s favor, by a long way, with oil imports from Nigeria and the rest of the Gulf of Guinea. So far, our major export to Nigeria at the moment is wheat. In the last year or so, we haven’t imported any crude oil from Nigeria; but Nigeria has imported a little bit more from us.
How much interestdoes Australian companies have in Nigeria?
I think Australian investors are very used to looking far and wide for opportunities. What we are starting to see now is an interest from Australian mining companies looking at how they can work with Nigerian operators to bring value. If I were to pick one particular sector that has potential, it would be solid minerals and extraction where both countries could do much more work. As you might know, Australia has a strong tradition in the development of solid minerals and our expertise and experience could be used here in Nigeria. And even in my short time here, I’ve seen quite a degree of progress in that area with a number of active Australian firms in that space and across the West African region.
There’s what is known as the Australia–Nigeria Trade Investment Council. What happened to it?
That was announced a few years ago and we are looking at ways in which we can really reinvigorate that body. And it may require us to look at how we can position that for the future given some of the strategic changes that I’ve identified particularly with the emergence of potential investment in the mineral sector. We are also looking at what might be the most appropriate vehicle for that sort of dialogue but I’m pleased to say that our dialogue and interaction remain strong even outside of the framework.