Not just any trade envoy...

MY COLLEAGUES Liam Smyth and Irina Bonavino recently met with John Howell MP, trade envoy for Nigeria, a key market for many North-east businesses.

Following on from the meeting, we invited Mr Howell (or John as I’m now allowed to call him) to visit with members when next in Aberdeen and it wasn’t long before that very opportunity arose.

Guests including Samphire Subsea, ASCO, MSIS and Scottish Enterprise, as well as representatives from Aberdeen City Council, the Department of International Trade and Subsea UK also attended.

John was eloquent in explaining his role as "the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy for Nigeria", and reporting on his recent visit to Nigeria.

He was very keen to seek feedback from the Aberdeen business community on doing business in Nigeria, those who’ve worked there for some time or considering doing business in the country for the first time.

Our members were very vocal about some of the issues they faced ranging from late payment to cultural differences and understanding local content to regulations but it seems that there are indeed some real opportunities.

Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa, 26th in the world and aiming to be among the top 20 by 2020.

From 2011-2015 the country was the 10th fastest growing economy globally, at an average of 7% per annum, however, GDP shrank by 2.1% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2016, compared to a 0.36% drop in the previous period.

It is the first contraction in 20 years due to a decline in oil prices.

Ninety five per cent of Nigeria’s Foreign Exchange earnings come from oil and gas and this is where many of the opportunities for Aberdeen businesses could lie.

Despite these difficulties, imports from the UK in 2015 were in excess of £1billion and the Exporting is Great website currently lists a diverse range of multi-sector opportunities ranging from high value opportunities (HVO) in the oil and gas industry to infrastructure projects, farming and technical vocational providers.

The meeting lasted an impressive four hours and John was eager to take all points raised on board.

The Chamber was keen to impress the importance of international markets to the oil and gas industry during these difficult times and the ways in which governments can support members.

The Chamber has engaged with four trade envoys this year who represent key markets for our members including Angola, Mozambique, Iraq, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan.

In 2015, the AGCC certified 80 export documents with a value of £324,000 in food and oilfield supplies and frequently organise successful international trade seminars for industries in this region on how to do business in Nigeria and have introduced members with key players in the country during our trade missions in 2010 and 2014.

  • The Chamber is hosting the Scotland Africa Oil & Gas Forum on November 24, in partnmership with the Scotland Africa Business Exchange, the first major event in Scotland to bring African petroleum ministers, NOCs and the CEOs of indigenous and international private sector organisations to Aberdeen.