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Canada-Nigeria Relations

Canada and Nigeria established diplomatic relations at Nigeria’s independence in 1962. In Nigeria, Canada is represented by its High Commission, which opened in Abuja in 1999. Canada also has a Deputy High Commission, which opened in Lagos in 1999. Canada was previously represented in Nigeria by a High Commission located in Lagos from 1960 to 1997, when it was closed due to the political situation. Since 2004, Canada has an Honorary Consul in Port Harcourt. Nigeria is represented in Canada by a High Commission, which opened in Ottawa in 1973.

Canada enjoys strong and increasing bilateral relations with Nigeria, which is one of two strategic partners for Canada in sub-Saharan Africa. We share values such as multiculturalism, institutions such as federalism and Commonwealth membership, and people-to-people ties which provide a solid foundation for increased engagement.

Recent high-level visits have served to strengthen the bilateral partnership:

  • Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan travelled to Canada in June 2010 to attend the G8 Summit.
  • Mr. Deepak Obhrai, the Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs, attended Nigeria’s Golden Jubilee of Independence celebrations in Abuja on October 1st, 2010 as the Prime Minister of Canada’s Special Representative.
  • Parliamentary Secretary Obhrai again represented Canada at the inauguration of President Jonathan on May 29, 2011.
  • In April 2012, then Nigerian Foreign Minister Olugbenga Ashiru visited Ottawa, where he and Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird signed the Memorandum of Understanding to Establish a Bi-National Commission, which covers four major areas: political relations, including democratic governance and human rights, commercial relations, security cooperation and development cooperation.
  • In September 2012, then Minister of International Cooperation Julian Fantino traveled to Nigeria to discuss health issues, the Sahel and economic growth.
  • In October 2012, Minister Baird went to Abuja to co-chair the inaugural meeting of the Bi-National Commission and to Lagos to meet Nigerian business leaders.
  • In January 2013, Minister of International Trade Ed Fast led a Canadian Trade Mission to Abuja and Lagos. During this visit, he co-chaired the second meeting of the Bi-National Commission with his counterpart, Nigerian Trade Minister Olusegun Aganga.
  • In early May 2013, Nigerian Vice President Namadi Sambo led a delegation of several state governors and ministers, including the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of Trade, to Canada for the May 2-4 Canada Nigeria Investment Conference in Toronto. During his sojourn in Canada, the Vice President met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa. Minister Baird and Minister Fast also met with then Nigerian Foreign Minister Ashiru and Nigerian Trade Minister Aganga in Ottawa during this time. Finally, Parliamentary Secretary Obhrai and Ms. Lois Brown, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation, both attended the Nigeria Investment Conference, where they met with several Nigerian ministers.
  • Minister of International Development, Christian Paradis, visited Nigeria to attend the World Economic Forum (Africa) in May 2014. During the visit, he met with V.P. Sambo, signed the FIPA with Nigeria’s Trade Minister Aganga and co-chaired the third meeting of the Bi-National Commission.

Canada welcomes Nigeria’s leadership in African and global affairs, most notably through its significant contribution to international peace operations. Nigeria is the second largest troop contributing African nation and the fifth largest globally, with over 4,700 personnel deployed in Sudan and Liberia alone. Nigeria contributed over 1,000 military personnel and several aircraft in support of the UN Security Council-mandated African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA).

Canada recognizes and appreciates Nigeria’s leading role in the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which is among the strongest and most coherent of Africa’s international institutions. ECOWAS plays a key regional role in resolving armed conflict and political crises, as in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger and Sierra Leone; handling security issues such as illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, terrorism and human trafficking; and promoting regional economic integration.

Nigeria is Canada’s largest bilateral merchandise trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa, and trade between Nigeria and Canada has increased more than threefold since 2007 despite the drop in 2013 mainly due to decreased oil imports. In 2013, Canada’s bilateral merchandise trade with Nigeria totalled $1.6 billion. Canada’s exports to Nigeria have increased significantly since 2003 and were $463.3 million in 2013. Canadian merchandise imports from Nigeria consist of mineral fuels and oils, cocoa, rubber, lead and processed foods, totalling US $1.2 billion.

The Canadian business presence in Nigeria is substantial and multi-faceted. Canadian interests cover a full range of key sectors, including oil and gas, telecommunications, and manufacturing equipment, aeronautics, energy, and engineering and education services. New areas with high potential for growth are mining technology as well as transportation. Recent and ongoing efforts to reform the banking sector stand to establish a more conducive foreign investment environment, creating potential opportunities for Canadian firms.

Canada signed a Double Taxation Agreement with Nigeria in 1992. On May 1, 2013, Prime Minister Harper announced the conclusion of negotiations towards the Canada-Nigeria Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA), marked by the signing of a letter of Intent by Minister Fast and his Nigerian counterpart, Minister Aganga. The FIPA was signed by Minister for International Development Paradis and Minister Aganga on May 6, 2014 during the Minister’s visit to Abuja.

Canadian and Nigerian officials have exchanged proposals for an Air Transport Agreement. Canada’s primary interest – the ability to offer code-shared services between the two countries on airlines of third countries – continues to pose a challenge for Nigeria. Further discussions are likely to take place later in 2014.

In the area of development cooperation, Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) is focusing its support, which totalled $43.39 million in fiscal 2012-2013, on strengthening health care delivery at the community level, preventing and treating major illnesses that contribute to maternal and child mortality, and helping to eradicate polio. This assistance is aimed at reducing the maternal mortality rate in Nigeria, which is high at 630 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010. The neonatal, infant and under-five mortality rates are similarly high and the country has the second highest rate of newborn deaths worldwide.

To promote sustainable economic growth, Canada is developing new programming aimed at increasing employment and business opportunities for Nigerians. Support is also provided in the area of democratic governance. Canada provided support to the 1999, 2003 and 2007 elections and also has an ongoing project running until 2015 to support the long-term electoral cycle. Since September 2010, Canada sponsored technical assistance to Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission. Canada continues to provide support to groups and institutions that work to strengthen democracy, accountability, good governance, and religious freedom in Nigeria.

May 2014

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