By Jill Malandrino
In an interview with the Nigerian News Agency, Zao LingXiang, Economic and Commercial Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria, said, “In my opinion, it really doesn’t matter whether Iran comes back or not. Chinese companies want to import more crude oil from Nigeria.”
The total amount of export to China was only about 1 million barrels in 2015, which was just 1.3 percent of Nigeria’s annual export. LingXiang said trade volume between both countries stood at nearly $15 billion, making Nigeria the third-largest trade partner of China in Africa.
China, overall, is Africa’s largest trading partner. Besides oil, other key goods China imports from Nigeria include machinery, transportation equipment, textiles, home appliances, medicine and computers.
“China is the largest developing country in the world, and Nigeria is the largest developing country in Africa, and both countries have complimentary advantages in natural and human resources, funds and markets,” LingXiang said.
This development is crucial for Nigeria because the economy is oil-dependent. Oil accounts for 80 percent of government revenues, and because of the plunge in prices since June 2014, the economy has suffered and the naira has fallen sharply.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has been making strides to diversify the economy, which is fully in line with the 10 China-Africa cooperation plans announced at the summit on China-Africa trade in Johannesburg in 2015.
The Chinese government announced that the 10 cooperation plans would strengthen cooperation with Africa in the coming three years. They cover the areas of industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure, financial services, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty reduction and public welfare, public health, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security.
Jill Malandrino is a contributor to VOA