Alessandro Gerbino, Director of the Italian Trade Agency for West Africa during an interview with Thisday newspaper, disclosed that Italy is aggressively working to foster the trade relationship between Italy and Nigeria. It would be recalled that the European country recently opened an Italian Trade Agency (ITA) in Lagos state.
During the discussion, Gerbino stated that although the headquarters of ITA is located in Ghana, there is still a strong need for the agency in Nigeria, because it is the biggest economy in Africa. Furthermore, he said the colossal nature of the economy required its direct presence in the country.
He also added that the trade would focus mainly on raw materials and technology, which will positively enhance the economy of both parties involved.
‘’We rely on raw materials supply from Nigeria to Italy, while we export from Italy to Nigeria mostly technology and other goods that are typical from Italy, such as furniture, building construction materials, etc’’ Gerbino said while highlighting his country’s plan to catch up with the growing demands for finished products in Nigeria.
Italy’s intention to enhance trade with the African giants creates a possibility for more opportunities in Nigeria’s economy, especially in sectors like revenue, tax, employment, and logistics.
The Nigerian government can also leverage on this development, as the current administration of President Muhammed Buhari has shown a commitment to creating more revenue through diversifying the economy into other profitable sectors.
The diversification approach basically aims at reducing the countries’ heavy dependence on crude oil revenue, which brings about 98% of export earnings for the country.
As the trade relationship between Italy and west African states foster, there should also be an empathic thought on how to address the irrational supply chain of raw materials that leave African shores and return as finished products from Europe.
This trade imbalance leads to a situation were the commodities become highly priced and sometimes not affordable to the African masses.
To close the gap of high market prices caused by importations, African leaders can also negotiate for more favourable trade policies, tariffs, and tax on foreign commodities produced with African resources.
West African trading with European countries dates back to the colonial era, where the African region largely provided resources like human capital (slaves), gold, tree log cocoa, and other cash crops. After the era, the trade evolved to resources like crude oil, diamond, rubber, wildlife, and even wildlife animals.
According to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade, Nigeria’s exports from Italy were valued at US$1.89 Billion in 2018.