Nigeria is the second-largest trading partner in Africa to the United States of America, Julie Leblanc, U.S. Commercial Counselor to Nigeria, said during her speech held at the BusinessDay Africa Trade and Investment Summit.
The event organised by Africa’s business journal of international repute, BusinessDay, is currently taking place at the Eko Convention Centre, Lagos, and has had captains of industry, senior government officials, and members of some diplomatic coups in attendance, with more to speak today (Friday).
Leblanc, who stood in for Will Stevens, the U.S. Mission to Nigeria, and of Consul General, spoke about the significance of strengthening bilateral trade relations between the U.S. and Africa, and in particular Nigeria.
She emphasised the roles played by the U.S. government to reduce the trade gap between both countries.
She said, “Turning our attention to Nigeria, one of the continent’s largest economies, we recognise the vital role it plays in regional and global markets. With two-way trade exceeding $10.6 billion in 2022 and U.S. foreign direct investment totaling $5.6 billion, Nigeria stands as our second-largest trading partner in Africa.”
The U.S. envoy stated the specific areas that have helped improve this bilateral relationship, with more focus directed towards enhancements in technology, education, healthcare, and agriculture, amongst other areas.
Leblanc said, “Our partnership is increasingly technology-driven, with significant investments in Nigeria’s tech ecosystem and collaborative efforts to tackle global challenges in education, healthcare, agriculture, and other key areas.”
LeBlanc highlighted the pioneering programme of the Biden-Harris Administration, the Digital Transformation with Africa (DTA), as a demonstration of the U.S.’s commitment to enhancing productivity in its partnership, particularly with Nigeria and the entire continent of Africa.
She says, amongst several things, that the DTA is going to “expand digital access, enhance U.S.-Africa commercial relations, and strengthen digital environments in alignment with the African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy.”
The programme was created not only to acknowledge the continent’s contribution to global trade but also, most importantly, to amplify its role in global digital transformation.
In addition to the remarkable initiatives aimed at enhancing trade relations between the world’s largest economy and Nigeria, the U.S. envoy highlighted several commendable programmes the U.S. government employs to bolster Africa’s presence on the global stage.
Among these initiatives is the U.S.-African Continental Free Trade Area Memorandum of Understanding. The U.S. government’s unwavering confidence in the programme is reflected in its investment of $160 million to support it.
According to Leblanc, “this funding supports the development of digital trade and investment protocols, stakeholder engagement across Africa, and trade facilitation efforts.
“Our focus is on expanding trade in goods and services, digital trade, and supporting the Women and Youth Protocol of the African Continental Free Trade Area.”