The U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker and Chairman Heirs Holdings Tony Elumelu has called for increased US-Nigeria investments as a way of further cementing the robust ties that exist between the two countries.
Both leaders who spoke at a gathering of business leaders in Lagos on Wednesday, said that the two countries have come a long way in bilateral relationship, adding that increasing the investment interests will further ensure that maximum opportunities that abound in the two economies are properly tapped into.
Pritzker, who is leading 20 American companies on an Energy Business Development trade mission to Ghana and Nigeria, said American companies would invest in countries that observe the rule of law, follow ethical standards and have good work environments.
“Nigeria needs to take the tough steps that allow businesses to truly thrive. Our companies want to do business in countries that follow the rule of law, maintain ethical standards, abide by workplace safety, encourage workforce training and protect intellectual property” she stated.
She also maintained that businesses must operate freely and devoid of unnecessary regulation, government interference and corruption stating that “these are the conditions that will increase confidence among international and local business leaders and encourage further investments in Nigeria.”
The Commerce Secretary also advised the government to sign the Government Procurement Agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and urged the Nigerian Government, business and civil society leaders to join hands in developing home grown solutions to challenges facing the country.
“I believe that together we can, must, and will move toward strengthening our security, promote democracy, spur more trade, investment and economic opportunity to benefit Nigerian citizens,” she said.
Tony Elumelu, Chairman of Heirs Holdings and Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, who spoke on behalf of the private sector, said the visit was very strategic and underscores the importance that the US attaches to Nigeria.
“While the Nigerian people are proud that our oil is helping to power the biggest economies in the world, we are about so much more than oil resources, we are about agriculture; we are about telecoms; we are about real estate and hospitality; we are about entertainment; we are about banking and financial services and so much more,” Elumelu said.
Acknowledging that there have been sectoral reforms and rebuilding of regulatory capacity by the Nigerian Government, Elumelu said that efforts are being made to tackle the manufacturing sector which at just five per cent of the national economy has a lot of room for growth.
“We need investors and partners and technical expertise to develop our supply chains, infrastructure and work force skills and American firms and entrepreneurs can help us to accomplish this and gain significant value for themselves,” Elumelu said.