The Federal Government (FG) has rejected plea by Vietnam that its rice should be allowed into Nigeria. Instead, the FG asked Vietnamese investors to build rice processing mills in Nigeria, given the country’s large arable lands and potentials in rice farming.
Speaking at the Nigeria-Vietnam Trade and Investment Forum (NVTIF) in Abuja yesterday, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Sunday Akpan, told the gathering that Vietnam was among the top five rice producers in the world.
Akpan said Nigeria would welcome collaboration with Vietnamese government and investors in the area of building rice processing mills in Nigeria given their vast experience in rice production.
The permanent secretary’s position appears to be a rejection of the appeal of the Vietnamese government that the Federal Government should allow it to export rice to Nigeria at discounted rates.
The Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam, Vuong Dinh Hue, had on Tuesday made the appeal through the ruling APC when he led a five-man delegation to meet the Adams Oshiomshole-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
The appeal may not be unconnected with the biting effect of Nigeria’s recent border closure and ban on rice importation through the land borders.
Rejecting the appeal, the APC Chairman, Oshiomhole, had told the visiting deputy prime minister that Nigeria would not accept such demand from Vietnam, advising the country to rather secure land and invest in rice production in Nigeria.
Oshiomhole said, “If government allows importation of food, our youths will become idle; that will lead to unemployment. We want to promote food security. Rather than importing rice from Vietnam, your (Vietnam) farmers can take advantage of our arable land. We have to do that not only to protect farmers, but to tackle food security,” he said.
The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) President, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, in 2017, said the trade volume between the countries was $303.83m, out of which Nigeria’s export to Vietnam was $232.65m and imports from Vietnam was $71.18m.
Kayode said Nigeria’s exports to Vietnam were mainly raw materials, especially cashew nuts, while imports were mainly mobile phones, electronics, textiles, plastics, chemicals and machinery parts.
He said, “Nigeria and Vietnam must devise more areas of economic cooperation in important sectors like oil and gas, maritime, mining, construction, power, agriculture, cement, transportation, engineering, telecommunication and education. This is in order to add maximal value to our economies on a win-win basis and to ensure mutual prosperity.”