Trade between Commonwealth countries to hit $1tn
The International Trade Centre says trade between Commonwealth countries, estimated at $700bn in 2015, is expected to hit $1tn by 2020.
The Senior Adviser, Empowerment, ITC, Nicholas Schlaepfer, disclosed this during a press conference to unveil the Nigerian chapter of its initiative – SheTrades in the Commonwealth.
SheTrades in the Commonwealth is an initiative of the global body, and aims at creating markets for women in the Small and Medium-sized Enterprise sector of the society.
Schlaepfer noted that the ITC would be working across Commonwealth countries, including Nigeria, to provide technical assistance to women in agriculture, power and service sectors, saying that the opportunities that abound in the Commonwealth market were limitless.
The project, according to him, will run until March 2020, and the Nigerian chapter will be executed in collaboration with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council.
He said, “SheTrades is our newest project. The reason we are focusing on Commonwealth countries is due to the shared values and the similar legal systems of institutions within Commonwealth countries. There is a potential for increasing trade relations and because of this, the cost of trading between Commonwealth states is approximately 19 per cent lower than other countries.
“We are here to support women businesses and make them more competitive in international value chains. We are going to be working across four countries (Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Bangladesh) to support 20,000 women in businesses that will generate investments to a value of E28m by 2020.”
He stated that there were limits to women’s economic participation in Nigeria as they owned only about 16 per cent of businesses; a figure he said was a bit less when compared to the global average of 38 per cent.
Schlaepfer said that SheTrades Commonwealth-Nigeria would address challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, including access to and control over land, cumbersome business and financial institutional processes, among others.
“It will ensure that women entrepreneurs in Nigeria receive support tailored to their specific needs, allowing them to propel their existing market representation and secure greater access to global trade,” the ITC senior adviser said.
The Executive Director, NEPC, Mr. Olusegun Awolowo, said that the council in collaboration with the SheTrades Commonwealth project, aimed to make women’s businesses significant contributors to the country’s economy.
According to him, the partnership will focus on integrating women into the economic fabric of Nigeria through connecting them to global trade.
He observed that Nigerian women supplied approximately 70 per cent of agricultural labour, 50 per cent of animal husbandry-related activities, and 60 per cent of food processing; yet had access to only 20 per cent of available agricultural resources.