Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo is on a three-day official visit to the Southeast Asian country, the Presidency’s first high-level visit since 2005, when then-President Olusegun Obasanjo visited.
The need for improved collaboration between Nigeria and Vietnam was the focus of a bilateral meeting on Monday at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi between Vice Presidents Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, and Madam V Th nh Xuân, his Vietnamese counterpart.
In a concerted effort to deepen Nigeria and Vietnam’s long-standing bilateral relations, both countries intend to collaborate more, particularly in the areas of digital economy, telecommunications, agriculture, and trade, among others, for the mutual benefit of citizens.
Prof. Osinbajo and Madam Xuân both acknowledged the countries’ significant market potential, particularly in the digital economy, telecommunications, agriculture (particularly cashew nut processing), and trade.
Prof. Osinbajo stated that “there are vast opportunities that exist for cooperation and collaboration, especially in the area of digital economy and telecoms, and we look forward to the signing of some of the agreements that we have spoken about – the trade and investment agreements, trade projection agreements, double taxation agreements.
“We look forward to accelerating the process, ensuring that those agreements are signed because they are vital to the collaborations that we will see between our countries in the coming years.”
He went on to say, “another area I think we might be able to cooperate with you more is in the area of digital economy.”
He noted that, despite the COVID-19 disruptions and other events that impacted the economy, Nigeria has built six fintech and e-commerce companies, now referred to as Unicorns, over the last few years (companies that are valued over a billion dollars each).
The vice-president said, “we think that there are opportunities for collaboration between Nigeria and Vietnam, especially in the Digital Economy space.
“We also have a growing telecoms market, possibly one of the deepest penetrations of telecoms in the developing world. We have close 120 million of our citizens who have put to use telecoms equipment or devices.
“And also, broadband connectivity is vastly improved. We hope that by 2025, we will have broadband connectivity for all of our over 200 million people.”
In terms of agriculture, Prof. Osinbajo stated, “given the food crisis that the world faces today, and is likely to continue facing even in the coming years, I like to say that the way forward is for our countries to collaborate.
“For instance, establishing cashew processing plants in Nigeria. What has happened in the past was the export of raw cashew, but at this point, we are concerned about value addition. We will like to see value addition.
“This is an area where Vietnam obviously has significant advantage and experience in the area of cashew processing. If these cashew processing centres are established in Nigeria, we will be able to have an opportunity to add value to raw cashew. In that way, we will draw from the benefits that our countries can derive from the cashew value chain.”
Prof. Osinbajo assured his Vietnamese counterpart that “we will certainly support Vietnam’s establishment of relations with ECOWAS, we think that it is a very positive thing indeed, and we are very mindful of the opportunities that will be created with that kind of collaboration.”
“I just wanted to also add that Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa and this puts us at the centre of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, which opens up trade in what will become the world’s largest free trade zone.
“We think that Nigeria as the gateway to the rest of Africa is strategic, and we hope that with some of the collaborations that we will be able to sign – specifically trade and industry agreements, Vietnam will see the opportunity in using Nigeria as a staging post for entry into the African Free Trade Zone and for greater collaboration with Africa,” the VP added.
The Vietnamese Vice President, for her part, praised Nigeria’s leadership role in the ECOWAS sub-region and in Africa in general, particularly in the peaceful resolution of disputes based on international law and in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
She expressed confidence in Nigeria’s ability to address challenges facing the continent and sub-region, and she asked for Nigeria’s support in Vietnam’s efforts to establish relations with ECOWAS.
Madam Xuan also praised Nigeria’s assistance to Vietnam, particularly in supporting her country’s candidates at multilateral forums such as the United Nations.
She discussed the progress of digital transformation in Vietnam, as well as the country’s commitment to the global energy transition, adding that her country would continue to collaborate with Africa to meet its aspirations in agriculture, clean energy, and digital penetration.
The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Defense Cooperation between Nigeria and Vietnam was one of the highlights of the bilateral meeting between both VPs. While Nigeria’s Ambassador to Vietnam, Ambassador Hassan Adamu Mamani, signed on behalf of Nigeria, the Vietnamese Deputy Minister of National Defense, Senior Lt. Gen. Hoang Xuan Chien, signed on behalf of Vietnam.