Dutch minister for foreign trade and development cooperation, ms. Sigrid kaag visits nigeria, 8-10 july 2019.
Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Her Excellency (Ms.) Sigrid Kaag was in Nigeria from 8-10 July 2019. The purpose of her visit was three-fold:
- High-level bilateral consultations;
- Trade Mission; and
- Inauguration of Dutch Consulate-General in Lagos
Please, kindly take us briefly into a journey on your background.
In accordance with signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on diplomatic consultations of 2018 between Nigeria and the Netherlands, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Yemi Osinbajo granted audience to H.E Sigrid Kaag on Tuesday, 9th July 2019 at the State House in Abuja. This was the second round of consultations after the first was held between the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the two countries on 30th October 2018 also in Abuja. An atmosphere of conviviality permeated the engagement between the Vice President and Hon. Minister Kaag, underscoring subsisting excellent relations between Nigeria and the Netherlands.
As major trading and investment partners, robust discussions were held on specific areas of fostering closer collaboration and intensified cooperation. After noting large delegation of Dutch companies interested in agrifood and sustainable cities, both sides agreed to establish a working group on trade and investment, the composition of which will include representatives of both governments and might be complemented with private business entrepreneurs, research institutions and others. It is envisaged that the working group will explore opportunities to further increase trade and investment volumes from Nigeria to the Netherlands and vice versa, especially in the areas of agriculture, food production and distribution and food security. Furthermore, it will pay special attention to youth employment and entrepreneurship, capacity building and knowledge sharing.
In the ensuing discussions, Nigeria undertook firm commitment to continuing reforms for conducive business and investment environment while the Netherlands pledged to continue assisting Nigeria for increase in agricultural productivity especially horticulture, seed and sustainable palm oil production. In this vein, the Netherlands will establish several multi-annual cooperation programmes that will focus on knowledge exchange, capacity building, private sector development and value chain transformation. Additionally, the Netherlands is willing to invest in young potential Nigerians to study in the Netherlands in the identified areas.
Nigeria and the Netherlands acknowledged the huge investment potential of Nigeria’s internal water ways of River Benue and River Niger if desilted and therefore agreed to explore opportunities in that regard.
In the spirit of free trade and regional integration on the African continent, the Netherlands welcomed Nigeria’s decision to join the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
Having discussed the irritant of visa issuance in our relations, it was agreed that unnecessary delays and rejections hinder people-to-people contact for flourishing of businesses. Therefore, Nigeria welcomed the decision of the Netherlands to upgrade the status of its diplomatic office in Lagos to Consulate-General with a view to addressing visa challenges for Nigerians willing to travel to the Netherlands. The inaugural ceremony was conducted by Minister Kaag on 10th July 2019 in Lagos.
Consular matters and migration as important subject featured prominently in the consultations as the Netherlands agreed to organize a strategic bilateral dialogue on the topic to address emerging challenges in October 2019 in The Hague.
Furthermore, both sides noted with concern the challenging security situation in Nigeria but acknowledged the tremendous efforts of Nigeria to stem the ugly tide and to bring the situation under control. Similarly, an important issue discussed was the humanitarian situation of people in the North East of Nigeria, especially vulnerable women and girls. The two sides concurred that efforts to ameliorate the situation would be sustained. In this regard, the Netherlands pledged assistance through psychosocial support programmes.
Next round of consultations will take place in The Hague on date and time to be mutually agreed. However, in furtherance of the excellent bilateral relations between Nigeria and the Netherlands, the Dutch Prime Minister, H.E. Mark Rutte has accepted the invitation of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, H.E. Muhammadu Buhari for a scheduled visit to Nigeria in the last quarter of 2019. It is anticipated that the visit will offer an opportunity to take stock of the progress in implementing the decisions made at the second round of consultations between the two countries.