GTBank urges increased bilateral activities between Nigeria, UK

ABUJA: Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTBank) said there is a growing need to increase the bilateral activities between Nigeria and the United Kingdom (UK), if the plans by both governments to double trade and investment growth by 2016,would succeed.

The Deputy Managing Director of the bank, Mrs. Cathy Echeozo, made the assertion at the opening of the 2013 UK-Nigeria Investment Partnership Forum, sponsored by the financial institution, in partnership with the Nigerian Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange.

The bank also said that private companies from both countries, which are the engines that will drive the increased investment proposal, must undertake forums like this to exchange ideas and strategise better for opportunities.

GTBank urges increased bilateral activities between Nigeria, UKAccording to her, the forum presents a platform for discussions on promoting partnership, trade, investments and improved relations between Nigeria and UK.

“GTBank on its part, has always played to its strength both locally and internationally, being the first Nigerian company to take advantage of the capital market opportunities in the UK market to raise both equity and debt capital to fund its business operations and growth aspirations.

“Trade and investments play a vital role in promoting economic prosperity and are vital stimuli for economic growth, development and productivity at personal, institutional and national levels. Nigeria has strong historic, language and constitutional ties with the UK and currently UK’s second largest export market in sub-Saharan Africa.

“There is a wealth of opportunities in UK, as well as in Nigeria and a good way to achieve stronger trade and investment partnerships is for both countries to focus on high value opportunities in key sectors such as oil and gas, power and infrastructure and security services.

“UK exports of goods and services to Nigeria were worth about £4 billion in 2012, with British investment in the country worth over £1 billion. In the same vein, there are various, ongoing investment projects aimed at developing infrastructure in Nigeria with capital sourced from the United Kingdom through its debt and equity capital markets,” she said.

According to her, Nigeria presents a serious business proposition and continues to be a vital investment destination in Africa, with various drivers that have sustained high economic growth rate, including a stable democratic government, reforms, liberalization of key sectors, a well regulated financial services sector, growth of non-oil sectors and exports, amongs others.

Echeozo noted that Nigeria’s credit rating was upgraded to BB- from B+ by Standard and Poor’s, which was premised on improvement in the country’s external reserves and governance, recovery of the financial services sector, progress in the nation’s power sector reforms amongst other notable policy reforms.

She said: “British companies have operated in Nigeria for decades and have enjoyed success and real returns in their operations. British energy firms have continued to do well here. The boom in consumer goods has also seen firms like Diageo, PZ Cussons and Unilever excel in manufacturing and brand marketing.

“We are aware of the infrastructural challenges, however, the development of this much needed infrastructure now represents opportunities to invest, rather than obstacles to investment. We are witnesses to the transformation of the economy through the privatization of the telecoms sector in 2001 and deregulation of the national ports in 2006.

“It is apparent that both Nigeria and the United Kingdom will benefit from fostering bilateral relationships, especially with the close cultural links between the two nations.”

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