Feature: Nigeria needs Bilateral Trade to create wealth


By Ayo Akinfe


Do any of Nigeria’s Presidential candidates understand the importance of bilateral trade deals in creating wealth?

[1] Has it occurred to most of us that Abuja does not have any understandable and beneficial bilateral trade agreements with any other nation on earth. Everything is done on a case-by-case basis

[2] Were we a thinking people for instance, we would have long signed a free movement of goods and people agreement with South Africa, effectively granting citizenship of each country to nationals of both nations. That would have shut up all those South African xenophobes and forced them to up their game to the level of the migrant Nigerian shopkeeper. The message would be simple – Measure up or starve!

[3] Nothing cuts the ground from underneath the feet of a man with an “entitlement complex” as forcing him to compete on an equal basis. It could be Brexiteers in the UK, Omo Oniles in Lagos, unskilled South African youths, illiterate born-to-rule Fulani herdsmen, secessionist-leaning Ipob youths or outright fascists and Neo-Nazis. They all have the same thing in common. They hate “outsiders”, feel threatened by competition, want to “do their own thing” but above all, believe they are superior to the people they look down on and are of the opinion that Mother Nature owes them a debt

[4] Going forward, we simply need bilateral and regional deals to make it clear that the era of the isolated kingdom is over. You have to compete in a global world if you want to survive. Why should jobs be reserved for you when there are others who can do them better, be more productive, generate more wealth and deliver customer service better than you can?

[5] This is where Nigeria’s foreign ministry comes in. We need to have about 12 or so well-targeted bilateral agreements covering areas like commerce, manufacturing, security, tourism, agriculture, transport, etc, which deliver long term benefits for both parties

[6] One area where we could easily do this today is in fashion. Is it just me but has nobody else noted that the one European nation most similar to Nigeria is Italy? We have the same dress sense, fashion habits, love for shoes and both appear addicted to designer labels. In an ideal world, Italy should have been Nigeria’s former colonial master, not Britain

[7] Can someone please explain to me why Nigeria is not wooing Italian fashion chains like Gucci, Giorgio Armani, Byblos, Bottega Veneta, Roberto Cavalli, Costume National, Brunello Cucinelli, Diesel, Dolce & Gabbana, Etro, Fay, Fendi, etc to come and open manufacturing plants in Nigeria? It is a logical step to take as all the necessary factors are present. Labour is cheap, there is a huge domestic market and from Nigeria, the Italians can supply all their distribution chains worldwide

[8] Italian fashion became prominent during the 11th to 16th centuries, when artistic development in Italy was at its peak. Cities such as Palermo, Venice, Milan, Naples, Florence and Vicenza started to produce luxury goods, hats, cosmetics, jewelry and rich fabrics. Today, Milan is considered the fashion capital of the world. Many Nigerian cities like Lagos, Abuja, Uyo, Port Harcourt, Owerri and Calabar are currently going through a similar transition. Tailors in all these cities are designing mind-blowing outfits but alas, there is no branding and near-zero marketing

[9] I still find it hard to get my head round the fact that Nigeria has no national iconic fashion company. We should have a company as recognisable as say the NNPC, Shoprite, Dangote Industries, MTN, etc that is renown for quality, the imaginative use of African fabrics and is the world’s leading expert in agbadas, isiagwus, danshikis, kaftans, iro & buba, etc. Its order books should be brimming with international requests. Maybe call it Agbada Enterprises

[10] How many Nigerians know that the German clothing company Hugo Boss produced Germany’s World War Two uniforms? It was a smash hit as they were top quality, coming with shiny leather boots, belts and jackets that looked like suits. They were a huge morale booster and lifted the Wehrmacht’s spirits in the early stages of the war. That is the kind of company we need to give birth to in Nigeria and Italy is the perfect partner we need for this


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