The Nigeria-Belgium trade volume is still struggling at €300 million, the Nigerian Ambassador to Belgium, Ambassador Felix Awanbor, has said.
The envoy also said that some 28 Belgian companies are active in Nigeria with many in the construction sector, especially dredging.
Awanbor made the disclosure on the sidelines of the just-concluded 4th European Union-Africa Summit in Brussels.
The Nigerian envoy however said efforts were ongoing to ensure a reversed situation because the Federal Government was more interested in Belgian businessmen coming to Nigeria to invest their capital.
“On the average, going by the last figure we gathered from the department of their own statistics here, our trade volume is close to about €300 million. That is insignificant, it is a kind of a reversed situation that we are trying to encourage. The trading is important, no doubt about that, but we are more interested in them going to invest their capital in Nigeria,” he said.
Awanbor however said the Nigerian Embassy was already contesting that unfavourable verdict.
He said, “In terms of the trade volume, there has been some restrictions on the side of the European Union, in terms of what they call their own consumers protection. They have come up with some research results that had restricted some of our products from coming in here.
“For example, most of our seeds, melon seeds for example, that used to come here in large quantities, though by medium scale businessmen and women, now that is being restricted on the basis of aflatoxin.
“They said they contain a lot of aflatoxin which is considered to be injurious to health. But we are trying to contest that.
“The same apply to some other produce: palm oil and the rest of them that used to come in. These are some of the barriers we have to contend with in terms of the in flow of our products.
“The major export from Nigeria to Europe is still our hydrocarbon. “That we are trying to discourage. If they are trying to restrict us from bringing our products in on the basis of their research discoveries, I think I have a duty to see how I can encourage their own business people to go to Nigeria and do their investment and that is the strategy that we are trying to adopt now at the embassy.
“We do realise a lot of competition from other African countries and even from far away Caribbean in terms of the products that usually come in here but we still want to encourage more of their own investors to venture into the Nigerian market. A lot of their construction companies are active in Nigeria.
“Many of them have been there for well over 20 years, particularly in the area of dredging.”
Awanbor said Belgium had since lost its second hand cars market in Nigeria to the United States of America.
He said because European cars were no longer attractive as they used to be, a few Nigerians who buy only use them as mini cabs.
He said Nigerians now prefer US when in need of luxury cars.
Awanbor expressed happiness with Nigerians in Belgium who have largely been lawful in their activities, adding that the embassy had also been engaging their leaders on the need to continue to enlighten members of the community on the need for them to be peaceful.
He described the few cases of consular problems that may involve Nigerians in Belgium as very insignificant.