The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has expressed its readiness to deepen economic ties with Nigeria toward promoting investment and trade between both countries.

Amb. Fahad Altaffag, United Arab Emirates Ambassador to Nigeria, expressed the country’s desire at the Dubai-Nigeria Export on Monday in Lagos.

The programme was organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and the UAE Embassy in Nigeria.

Altaffag said both countries had certain similarities and opportunities that could be explored to boost trade and investment by leveraging technology, innovation and youthful energy across all sectors.

“Over the past 15 years, our total bilateral non-oil trade growth witnessed a 17 per cent increase reaching about 1.7 billion dollars in 2017.

“More than 20 Nigerian trademarks are registered with the Ministry of Economy in Dubai,” he said.

He said the investment of Nigerians in the UAE had risen to about 120 million dollars across all sectors in 2016, due to the ease of doing business policy of the federal government.

He said there were huge opportunities for both economies to achieve more with deeper synergies.

“To achieve that, it is imperative to establish the right legislative infrastructure by defining the investment protection and promotion agreement to reduce stress between investors from both countries.

“The economic outlook is not defined by the limits of the past but liberated by the positivity of the future.

“We have the mind, the capability and the will; this is the time to unleash our potential to reach beyond business as usual, to push the boundaries of partnership and fast forward to a bright and progressive future for both nations,” he said.

Mr Babatunde Ruwase, President of LCCI, said the level of trade between both countries was still low, saying closer cooperation between private sectors of both countries could change the narrative.

He said there were tremendous opportunities for cooperation and investment relations in Infrastructure development, especially power and engineering infrastructure.

Ruwase said increased trade between both countries would enhance Nigeria’s drive for economic diversification, adding that the country was looking forward to a trade relation that would be mutually beneficial.

Mr Olukayode Pitan, Managing Director, Bank of Industry, said financial institutions in Nigeria needed to collaborate more with Dubai banks on strategies to promote non-interest banking.

He said several linkages would be explored from the partnership that would boost the trade competitiveness of both countries.

Mrs Olayinka Oladunjoye, Lagos State Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, said the partnership would enhance employment, wealth creation and deepen Nigeria’s desire to build an inclusive economy.

She said the country, and especially Lagos State, was interested in partnership for the development of its manufacturing, power, agriculture, Infrastructure and technology sector.