The UK will today sign a new investment deal with Nigeria that aims to boost bilateral trade and reduce commercial barriers as Britain seeks to strengthen ties with overseas states post-Brexit.
Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch will seal the agreement, known as an enhanced trade and investment partnership, in the Nigerian capital Abuja on Tuesday, the UK Department for Business and Trade said in a statement. It’s the first such deal struck between the UK and an African country.
While the agreement won’t entail substantive changes in regulation or market access, it will establish working groups staffed by government officials and private sector representatives, which Britain hopes will lead to the removal of trade barriers, boost investment and “unlock opportunities” for the UK’s dominant services sector, according to Badenoch’s department.
The partnership comes as the UK is struggling to pin down new full free trade agreements since leaving the European Union, despite Brexit proponents touting deeper relationships with overseas states as a key benefit following the UK’s split with the bloc. Talks with Canada have been “paused”, negotiations with India are dragging on for longer than expected, and a full federal-level deal with the US appears to be off the table.
Total trade between the UK and Nigeria totaled £7 billion ($8.8 billion) in the year to September 2023. Today’s agreement will see the West African country “work toward” removing barriers which currently prevent lawyers from practicing international and foreign law in the country, DBT said. It will also “pave the way” for further collaboration in film and media, and encourage UK education businesses to expand into Nigeria, it said.
“Nigeria has one of the fastest growing economies in the world,” said Badenoch. “UK businesses have already seen huge success here and I look forward to seeing how we continue to grow this relationship.”
The agreement has prompted talks between the two countries which have already led to the removal of restrictions on transnational education investment in Nigeria. They’ve also led the Central Bank of Nigeria to liberalize the country’s foreign exchange market, streamlining multiple foreign exchange windows into a single import and export window. This should make it easier for UK businesses to trade with the country, DBT said.