President Goodluck Jonathan will take a group of state governors and key ministers to China this week, seeking to strengthen ties with the Asian nation in everything from power production to bond buying.
The leader of Africa’s biggest oil producer will hold talks with President Xi Jinping and officials from Huawei Technologies Co., ZTE Corp. (763), and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (386) during a five-day trip starting on Tuesday July 9, the Abuja-based presidency said in an e-mailed statement. Jonathan is travelling with a delegation of state governors, lawmakers, and 15 cabinet members including Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Trade and Investment Minister Olusegun Aganga, Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke and Agriculture Minister Akinwunmi Adesina.
“We’re not just going there to seek loans, we want investments,” Okonjo-Iweala said in a July 3 interview in Abuja, the capital. “We also want China to invest more in Nigeria.”
Trade between Nigeria and China is projected to reach $10 billion by the end of the year from $2 billion in 2005, according to the Trade and Investment Ministry. Chinese companies and investors will attend a forum with Nigerian counterparts during the trip where “matchmaking” for potential partnerships will be made, Aganga, the trade minister, said in a separate interview on July 3.
Agreements on defense, economic and technical cooperation, and visa exemption for holders of diplomatic and official passports will be made, according to the government. A $1.29 billion-loan deal for the construction of four airport terminals and a 700-megawatt hydropower station will be signed with the Export-Import Bank of China.
Officials will also discuss “an agreement for the Central Bank of Nigeria to invest in China’s interbank bond market through the People’s Bank of China,” according to the statement from the presidency.
“This is the largest country in Africa and the largest country in Asia coming together,” Aganga said. “That sends a powerful message to the rest of the world.”
China continues to increase its presence in Africa’s most populous nation of more than 160 million people, operating in industries including oil and gas and communications.
Companies such as China Civil Engineering Construction Corp. and Sinohydro Corp. are helping to build hundreds of miles of double carriage railway lines, roads, airport terminals, and hydropower plants as Jonathan’s administration tries to improve infrastructure to spur business. The projects are partly financed with loans from China’s Exim Bank.
“Our objective is to get them to increase trade, get them to increase investment in Nigeria, and get a strategic long-term relationship,” Okonjo-Iweala said.