India stands as Nigeria's second-largest trading partner in Africa with bilateral trade reaching a high of USD 11.8 billion in 2022-23
In a development that underscores the growing economic partnership between the two sides, India and Nigeria are set to finalize the Local Currency Settlement System Agreement soon.

The matter was discussed at the 2nd session of the India-Nigeria Joint Trade Committee (JTC) which convened in Abuja this week with an aim to bolster bilateral ties and facilitate greater economic collaboration.

The two-day meeting, held on April 29-30, 2024, was marked by intensive discussions focusing on expanding trade and resolving market access issues. 

The JTC was co-chaired by Amardeep Singh Bhatia, Additional Secretary, Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry of India, and Ambassador Nura Abba Rimi, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment of Nigeria. 

The Indian delegation included the High Commissioner of India to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, G Balasubramanian, and Economic Adviser, Priya P. Nair. Officials from Reserve Bank of India (RBI), EXIM Bank of India and National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) were also present.

During the session, both countries recognized the untapped potential in their trade relations and agreed on several strategic areas to enhance mutual economic benefits. The sectors identified included:

1. Crude Oil and Natural Gas: Emphasizing energy as a cornerstone of the bilateral trade.
2. Pharmaceuticals: Aiming to increase collaboration in healthcare and medicine production.
3. Digital Economy and Infrastructure: Including discussions on implementing Unified Payments Interface (UPI) systems and enhancing digital public infrastructure.
4. Local Currency Settlement System: Both sides are nearing the conclusion of an agreement that promises to streamline bilateral trade by minimizing dependency on third-party currencies.

India stands as Nigeria's second-largest trading partner in Africa with the bilateral trade reaching USD 11.8 billion in 2022-23. However, this year has seen a decrease to USD 7.89 billion, signaling a need for strengthened economic engagements. Around 135 Indian companies are currently active in Nigeria, with total investments estimated at USD 27 billion across various sectors.

The session concluded with both nations reaffirming their commitment to address impediments to bilateral trade and to promote economic engagements. Notably, a business delegation led by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) was also present, consisting of representatives from sectors such as power, fintech, telecommunications, and pharmaceuticals, which added a practical dimension to the talks.

The proceedings of the JTC were described as cordial, friendly, and fruitful, highlighting the robust and special relations between the two countries. The discussions paved the way for future cooperation, with both sides expressing enthusiasm for addressing ongoing issues, boosting trade and investment, and enhancing people-to-people contacts.

The 2nd session of the India-Nigeria JTC not only reinforced the existing ties but also laid down a concrete pathway for future collaboration. With both countries at the cusp of signing the Local Currency Settlement System Agreement, the stage is set for a more streamlined and strengthened economic relationship, promising substantial growth and mutual benefits in the coming years.