By Chidinma Uchechukwumgemezu
The Nigerian government is seeking the vote of Iran for its candidate, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in the race to the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Director-General office.
The WTO is looking for a new director-general to replace Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, who stepped down a year earlier than expected at the end of August.
Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala is among the five cleared for the elections. The others are Kenyan minister Amina Mohamed, South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri and British ex-minister Liam Fox.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Richard Adebayo told the Iranian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mohammed Alibak, that Okonjo-Iweala’s election victory will strengthen global trade and economies.
The Minister stated that Nigeria would rely on Iran’s support for the election of Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela as the next DG for WTO, stressing that if elected it would be the first time an African will occupy the position since its establishment on 1st January 1995.
Adebayo further said the Bilateral Trade Agreements (BTA) earlier signed between the two countries in 2001, the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) in 2008, the establishment of the Nigeria-Iran Joint Commission in 2004, and the Iran Chamber, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture in 2016 should be sustained.
He assured the Ambassador that Nigeria will work with Iran to improve on the current low trade volumes as both countries have great potential that can leverage on considering the fact that the two countries are oil-dependent economies.
He said, “We can also share knowledge and best practices on economic diversification and our national development goals as Buhari’s led Administration is pushing to diversify the economy into the non-oil sector through various initiatives and a strategic partnership in the industrialization of key sectors that can boost efforts towards export of Iran and Nigeria.”
The Minister called on Iranian Investors to come to Nigeria to invest in the numerous Export Processing Zones (EPZs), in the country in view of the various incentives available to investors and to pursue partnerships in our economic development initiatives in sectors such as; Fertilizer Production, Tractor Assembly, Persian Rug Manufacturing, Mine and Steel Industries as well as Garment Production.
Earlier, the Iranian Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency, Mohammed Alibak, said that Iran is willing to help Nigeria in the areas of technology development, water supply, and engineering among others, adding that an invitation will be sent to the Minister to visit the Agricultural Industrial Machinery Show in Iran.
Alibak further stressed on the need to have a joint commission between the two countries as Nigeria is one of the best countries in Africa in terms of trade with Iran.