Economic and trade relations between Nigeria and Pakistan are set to be strengthened with the introduction of direct flights, as discussed during recent meetings between Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika and Pakistani government officials in Islamabad.
The minister engaged with officials from the civil aviation, trade and commerce sectors to explore opportunities for promoting direct flights between the two countries and revitalising the existing Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA).
The Nigerian mission, facilitated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with the Africa Centre for Asia +B Studies, aims to boost trade and tourism between Nigeria and Pakistan.
At the meeting with the acting secretary of Pakistan’s Ministry of Aviation, Sirika and his host agreed to take concrete steps towards the commencement of direct flights between Nigeria and Pakistan. They emphasised the need to quadruple the volume of passenger traffic from the 7,300 recorded last year, taking advantage of the two countries population. To achieve this, officials from both countries present at the meeting were directed to immediately meet and review the BASA to come up with a workable memorandum of understanding (MoU).
During the meeting with the president of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Ahsan Bakhtawari, Sirika expressed his commitment to laying a solid foundation for the promotion of trade relations between Nigeria and Pakistan.
Bakhtawari stressed the need to improve the volume of trade between both countries, valued at $210 million, through the promotion of business to business talks, the establishment of the Nigeria-Pakistan Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines & Agriculture and trade delegations from both sides.
The minister also engaged with the Minister of Commerce of Pakistan, Mr. Syed Qamar and emphasised the need to improve the level of trade between both countries. He urged Pakistani business leaders to invest in Nigeria, which he identified as the best destination for investment in Africa. The minister highlighted the business opportunities in the aviation sector in Nigeria, emphasizing that the country’s four international airports have been designated as economic free trade zones.
The director of economic, bilateral and trade relations of the ministry of foreign affairs, Amb. Bolaji Akinremi urged both countries to set up a joint committee to review their subsisting trade agreements. He also urged Pakistan to sign the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) and the Avoidance of Double Taxation (ADT) Agreement with Nigeria. The minister of commerce of Pakistan acknowledged the requests and promised to work with Nigeria in the three areas to enhance trade relations between the two countries.
Present at the meetings with the Minister of Aviation were the Nigerian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Amb. Mohammed Abioye; the director-general of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Nuhu Musa; Rector of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Capt. Alkali Modibo; Director of air transport management at the Ministry of Aviation, Mr. Hassan Ejibunu; Director of bilateral trade and economic relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bolaji Akinremi and the director-general of the African Centre for Asian Studies, Robert Achanya.