The Head of European Union (EU) delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, said on Wednesday that trade volume between Nigeria and EU reached 25.3 billion euros in 2017.
Karlsen said this in Abuja while fielding questions from newsmen on the forthcoming Europe Day May 9.
The envoy said this figure was an increase of 27 per cent over that of 2016, which was 19.9 billion euros.
He said that about 50 per cent of the 2017 trade value was in favour of Nigeria.
“About 25.3 billion Euro was traded in 2017. There is clear significant surplus in the benefit of Nigeria. Of the trade volume, around 50 per cent more is actually benefitting Nigeria,” he said.
According to him, the EU remains the most significant trading partner of Nigeria, stressing that trade and investment was an integral part of Europe partnership with Nigeria.
The envoy said though about 30 per cent of Nigeria’s external market is Europe, adding that the region is exploring ways to expand the trade ties.
He said the EU was making efforts to provide an additional market access for Nigerian products in Europe and beyond, thereby creating job opportunities for the teeming population.
On the EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), which Nigeria is yet to sign, the envoy said the union would continue engaging Nigerian government and other stakeholders on the benefits of the agreement.
“We are partnering with the Nigerian government, private businesses and other stakeholders to promote this and to continue the dialogue on the economic partnership agreement.
“What we want is to engage with everybody to stress the potential benefit that we consider in this kind of engagement in opening the market access, providing technical assistance .
”This is to make sure that it does not become hostile to industries and the opportunities for youth employment, but opportunities to develop industries through access to market,” he added.
He said that the EU had supported water and sanitation projects in 14 states to the tune 353.5 million Euro, reaching and benefitting more than four million people in the country.
The envoy said that the EU was also expanding its humanitarian support in north east Nigeria to include job creation for the displaced populations.
“We need to think of the north east in economic terms and job creation. This is part of our foreign policy.
“In the period from 2015 to 2017, we have provided 144.5 million Euro in humanitarian aid mainly in the north east. In 2018, we have set aside 34.5 million Euros to provide food aid.
“We are working in Borno state and currently in dialogue with Yobe state on how we can expand our support to the area.
“All together, we have set aside 257.5 million Euro in our support not only for humanitarian aid, but also in our long term development in that region,” he said.
According to him, there is need for military response, engagement in political dialogue, humanitarian aid to the victims.
He added that there was also need to engage in long term development to secure job and strengthen local and state institutions so that they can provide all the opportunities.
“We are working the talk on not only providing humanitarian relief but also engaging in long term development cooperation,” he said.