By Zhou Pingjian
The ERGP opens a new window of opportunity for China and Nigeria to progress together through cooperation for common development.
“The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) articulates our vision for the country for the period 2017-2020, and lays the foundation for long-term growth,” writes President Muhammadu Buhari in his foreword to the ERGP. “Tough times require bold actions,” Minister of Budget and National Planning Senator Udoma Udo Udoma further explains in his preface to the ERGP. “It sets out the tough choices we have to make as a nation over the next four years (2017-2020) and provides a clear road map of strategic policy actions and enablers required to revive the economy and place it on a path of sustainable growth and development.”
According to the executive summary of the ERGP, “Focused implementation is at the core of the delivery strategy of the plan over the next four years. More than ever before, there is a strong political determination, commitment and will at the highest level.” And this crucial point was reaffirmed by President Buhari himself while formally launching the ERGP last week in the State House: “I want to assure all Nigerians that we are approaching the solution to our economic challenges with the same will and commitment, we have demonstrated in the fight against corruption and in the fight against terrorism and militancy.”
As a proved reliable development partner of this country, China will always stand shoulder to shoulder with Nigeria in its request to fulfil the aspirations of its people. We see more mutual opportunities and greater partnership for win-win cooperation as far as the implementation of the ERGP is concerned. We are optimistic that by 2020 Nigeria will have made significant progress towards achieving structural economic change and having a more diversified and inclusive economy.
Coincidentally, China also has its Vision 2020, the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020). Five-Year Plans play a navigating role in ensuring the huge Chinese vessel sails to the expected destination. China’s first Five-Year Plan was implemented in 1953. With the plans, China’s economy has maintained an annual growth of over 9% on average for almost four decades since the start of China’s reform and opening-up policy in the late 1970s. China has set 2020 as the target year to realise the first “centenary goal” of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, pledging efforts to double GDP and per capita personal income from the 2010 level before the Communist Party of China’s 100th anniversary of founding in 2021. To this end, the 13th Five-Year plan aims to keep medium-high growth in the targeted five years. By 2020, the size of China’s economy is expected to exceed 90 trillion yuan (13.8 trillion U.S. dollars), compared with 67.7 trillion yuan in 2015.
Embodying the ruling Communist Party of China’s (CPC) new concepts with innovation foremost in strategies for a balanced, coordinated and sustainable growth pattern, the 13th Five-Year Plan is the first Five-Year Plan drafted under the current Chinese leadership, and also the first since China’s economy entered what policymakers refer to as the “new normal,” a phase of moderating growth based more on consumption than the previous mainstay of exports. The road map outlines the policy framework, priorities and clear economic and social goals, serving as a fundamental guide to China’s development in the five years 2016-2020.
One key feature of China’s realisation of its 13th Five-Year Plan is that China firmly keeps its door wide open to the world. Since late 1970s, China has attracted over $1.7 trillion of foreign direct investment (FDI) and made over $1.2 trillion of outbound direct investment (ODI). In 2016, China’s economy expanded at an annual rate of 6.7% and contributed 33.2% of global growth. China has not only benefited from economic globalisation but also contributed to it. China’s development is an opportunity for the world. Next month in Beijing, China will host the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which aims to discuss ways to boost cooperation, build cooperation platforms and share cooperation outcomes. We open our arms to the people of other countries and welcome them aboard the express train of China’s development.
For 2016 alone, China made $170.1 billion outbound direct investment（ODI）and Chinese tourists made over 120 million overseas visits. Africa is among the main destinations of China’s investment and tourists. In the next four years, China is expected to import $6.4 trillion of goods, attract $480 billion of foreign investment, make $600 billion of outbound investment, and Chinese tourists will make 560 million overseas visits. All these will create a bigger market, more capital, more products and more business opportunities for other countries including Nigeria.
Take industrialisation, which is one of the top five execution priorities of the ERGP. Overall, the ERGP estimates an average annual growth of 8.5% in manufacturing. As the world’s largest manufacturing country and second largest economy, China sincerely hopes to share its experience with Nigeria and stands ready to provide capital, technology and personnel in support of Nigeria’s industrialisation. Since China is advancing its supply-side structural reform, there is a growing need for China to relocate its overcapacity externally, while Nigeria is endeavouring to build a productive economy. This is an unprecedented opportunity for China and Nigeria to synergise their development strategies and make Nigeria’s long-cherished diversification and industrialisation dream come true.
The “Made-in-Nigeria” project will go a long way for Nigeria and an initiative of “Made-in-Nigeria with China” might be of some help. China supports the relocation of labour-intensive industries to Nigeria on a priority basis and the localisation of Chinese companies to create more non-agricultural jobs, especially those suited to the young people. The cooperation based on such complementarity and mutual benefit will give an even stronger boost to the realisation of China’s 13th Five-Year Plan and Nigeria’s ERGP.
As a matter of fact, during President Buhari’s highly successful state visit to China in April last year, China and Nigeria signed a MOU on industry, production capacity and investment cooperation and a forum for this purpose was held in Beijing. Last month, the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria co-hosted the Nigeria-China Forum on Production Capacity and Investment Cooperation in Lekki Free Zone Lagos. We Chinese often say to build the nest to attract phoenixes. One of the targets of ERGP is to achieve a top 100 ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index by 2020 up from the current ranking of 169. China is willing to assist Nigeria in creating a more enabling business environment by strengthening policy coordination, technological standardisation cooperation and even wider participation in infrastructural development in Nigeria.
China highly values its relations with Nigeria. During his visit to Nigeria in January this year, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Nigerian Foreign Minister, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama signed the joint statement by The Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and The Government of the People’s Republic of China, in which the Nigerian government reaffirms that the one China policy is at the core of its strategic partnership with China and reiterates not to have any official relations or engage in any official contacts with Taiwan which is an inalienable part of China’s territory, the Chinese government appreciates the above position and the recent measures taken accordingly by the Nigeria government and reaffirms its commitment to actively developing China-Nigeria strategic partnership across the board.
With remarkably strengthened mutual trust, a solid political foundation has been laid for bilateral cooperation between China and Nigeria. The ERGP undoubtedly opens a new window of opportunity for China and Nigeria to progress together through win-win cooperation for common development.
Dr. Pingjian is Ambassador of China to Nigeria