Trade volume between Nigeria and Taiwan jumped 200 per cent

The Taiwanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Andy Yih-Ping Liu, who is equally the representative of Taipei Trade office in Nigeria, spoke to JOSEPH ONYEKWERE on how trade relationship between both countries can be enhanced, the country’s political and business relationship with China and more.

 

Considering the cold relationship between Taiwan and China are you thinking of re-directing your business activities, especially given your area of core interest, which is production of semiconductors?

In the last one year, quite a lot of Taiwanese investment in China has moved their factory to South East Asia, such as Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia because of the labour cost and due to lockdown in China over COVID-19, which has hampered business activity. Most of our investments and trading agencies moved out of China to South East Asia.

At the same time, America and Japan are strengthening their trading relationship with Taiwan. From the August 1, 2022, Taiwan and America launched the negotiation of a framework for trading for 21st century. America knows that Taiwan is the most trustworthy strategic partner for providing high technology products. 70 per cent of their safety and national security related activity, such as; military, intelligence and satellite, is dependent on Taiwan’s microchip. We are against any bullying and America wants to help us protect ourselves, but we are capable of defending ourselves against Chinese aggression. We have a strong military and are investing heavily on military equipment. Soon, we will start building our own submarines. Despite the aggression, China is still our number one trading partner.

 

Do you Chinese agree to the mission of achieving one big country in that Region?

They have been dreaming that for 70 years, they established their own government in Beijing in 1949 and from that year, China and Taiwan have gone separate ways. We have our own jurisdiction and they have their own jurisdiction.

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But none of us will interfere with each other because we went separate ways, just like North and South of Korea is still in one Korea nation but different governments. We went separate ways after a civil war and now we have transformed ourselves into a full-fledged democracy, while China is still under totalitarian communist government.

Their ways are quite different from ours. It would be easier for their citizens to adopt our systems than us joining them.

 

Nigeria is about voting for a new government in May 2023, how does Taiwan view the whole journey?

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Nigeria, just like Taiwanese was colonised and went through civil war and we have moved into a full-fledged democracy by ourselves. Nigeria has the strong spirit to move the country forward. Both Nigeria and Taiwan don’t have colonial masters any more. We are now the masters of our own fate. What we hope for Nigeria is to continuously have our trade mission in Nigeria and taking Taiwan as equal partners in trading under the WTO and in the same time, we can have more exchange in education, culture and other areas. Next year, we will have Taiwanese film festival in Lagos so that Nigerians can appreciate Taiwan culture.

This year marks the 31st anniversary of our trade mission, which started in Nigeria in 1991. The Taiwanese government was approached by former Nigeria’s head of state, Ibrahim Babangida in the 1990s, inviting us to set up a mission in Nigeria. Although, Nigeria and Taiwan had no diplomatic relations, but at that time, Nigerian government and Taiwan were practical in setting up trade mission in both Lagos and in Taipei, our capital, so that trade and business relations could grow between both countries without formal ties. For the last 31 years, the trade relations have grown so well.

 

What is the volume of trade between the two countries?

2021 marked the first $1 billion trade volume between Nigeria and Taiwan. Even in the COVID-19 period, last year, the trade volume jumped 200 per cent. The trade volume indicates how much we need each other. We import quite a lot of Nigeria’s agricultural products, sesame and groundnut because we have a strong demand for good quality of agricultural products as raw material for our kind of food industry. At the same time, we export so much of our technology, either information technology products or petrochemical products to Nigeria. We have no oil but we import crude and we turn it into petrochemical in our refinery. Another export, which started in 1980-90s, was automobile and motorcycle parts. Nigerians assembled our parts into real product. Currently we export them but we have one major export, which is car tyre. We have a very strong name called Maxxis. It is a Taiwanese car Tyre company in Nigeria.

 

What is it like in terms of balance of trade?

Nigeria has trade surplus of the total volume of trade. We import more of Nigerian product and that means we need to work hard to promote Taiwanese products in Nigeria.

 

Which country is your biggest trading partner globally?

Our biggest trading partner is China. China and Taiwan speak the same Mandarin Chinese language; we eat the same food, though of different mentality, but we do business. Though, there’s military standoff not confrontation, they know that they cannot invade us and we know that we cannot do anything to them.

 

How can Nigeria and Taiwan deepen the relationship so that the volume of trade will increase?

There are two major things both Nigerian and Taiwanese governments are working on now. First one is to have a renewal of the mutual investment protection agreement. That agreement was signed in 1994. Nigerian government approached us for the renewal. Your government works so hard as it has concluded that renewal with Singapore and others. In Asia, Nigerian government has also approached South Korea for renewal of the mutual investment protection because investment will drive more job opportunities into Nigeria. It will also have an agreement with Taiwanese Import Export Bank to provide $5 million of trading guarantee loans for any Nigerian or Taiwanese traders for mutual trading. Our embassy needs to facilitate the channel of doing good business. NACCIMA, which is the umbrella trading agency in Nigeria is now working with us to have an upgrade and renewal of the MoU. We have also made connections with other chambers of commerce and industry so that members of such trading associations in Taiwan can benefit from recommended traders under NACCIMA or chambers of commerce in Nigeria to avoid trade fraud.

 

In terms of human capital exchange, do you see opportunity for both countries?

We have had a lot of training programmes for Nigerian experts in various professional backgrounds like doctors, nurses and information technology experts, to travel to Taiwan in the last 15 years. Those who have been trained in Taiwan had formed Taiwan alumni and that has become a bridge towards having more Nigerian professionals from different backgrounds travel to Taiwan, either for agriculture, industrialisation, medical and any other training.

Taiwans can equally come to Nigeria as the country is big. We want to understand more things about Nigeria, especially its democracy and human rights commission.

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