By Jonathan Ugbal; Government House Correspondent
The Cross River State Government has signed several trade deals with the Chinese province of Hunnan with the fields of interests including agriculture, mining, construction, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals and the fashion industry.
The deals will see about 46 investors brought in by the Vice Governor of the Hunnan Province He Bao Xiang take advantage of the friendly business climate Cross River State offers, the Governor, Senator Ben Ayade said on Thursday when Xiang led a delegation of businesses from the Hunnan province in the People’s Republic of China to Calabar on a one day working visit.
According to him, the memorandum of understanding signed between both states offers a preview of what cross cultural investments are and called on the visiting team to make the state, a base for their businesses as they look to invest in Nigeria which has the highest purchasing power in the African continent has a population of 1.3 billion people.
“I welcome all of you to this occasion that will begin the warm relationship between Africa and China. Africa in the context that Nigeria is the greatest window into Africa and so once you have captured Nigeria, you have indeed captured Africa.
“The population of Africa is about 1.29 billion people, almost 1.3 billion people and of this population, Nigeria has the highest motility and activities. It has the highest energy, the highest purchasing capacity and therefore globally it is assumed that out of every 4 black people you meet, one is definitely a Nigerian and that gives you an idea about the level of market available to you for finding market within the Nigerian space,” Ayade said.
He urged the “46 or so investors coming here today, 80 percent of whom are visiting Nigeria for the first time,” to “take advantage of the 1.3 billion people willing to buy your products by using Cross River State as your base. This is the right place to be, when you are in Africa, Calabar is the right city for you to be.”
He continued; “Hunnan and Calabar, we must come together and form a new energetic embrace that shows that they can be cross culture that can bring prosperity to the two divides and I believe that the best example to use is that Hunnan and Cross River is providing today to showcase cross cultural business relationship across the globe.
“You are going to have great opportunities in tailoring, pharmaceuticals; you will have great opportunities with the garment factories, food processing, industries, infrastructure, manufacturing, agriculture, solid minerals exploitation, processing into final end products. The opportunities are limitless,” Ayade said.
On his part, Xiang said his team was very impressed with the scenery of Calabar, the Cross River State capital and commended the hospitality shown them.
Xiang who spoke through an interpreter said the Hunnan province team looks forward to having a successful and fruitful partnership with Cross River State as an extension of the agreement between Presidents Xi Jinping and Muhammadu Buhari .
“We see the fast development from Cross River as well as the very beautiful scene. During our short stay we can feel the hospitality.
“After more than 30 years in governance, Hunnan has successfully transformed from a traditional agricultural province into a modern economic province.
“Hunnan is the province of Chairman Mao and our visit this time is not only to implement the agreement between Mr. Xi Jinping and your President. But, also we are here to last the good relationship between China and Nigeria,” Xiang said.
On the agreements, he said; “We have reached agreement to establish a relationship between Hunnan province and Cross River State. We have agreed to have a cooperation in fields of Agriculture, Infrastructure, Construction and also we have reached agreement on the processes and general master plan.
“Our agreement is extended in brotherhood and I think that the cooperation between Hunnan province and Cross River will have a bright future and will be very fruitful.”
Xiang said the Gross Domestic Product of Hunnan in 2016 totaled USD30 Billion as the province is seventh in terms of population and ninth in terms of economic size.
Cross River state has a population of about 4 million people spread across 21,000 square km of land while compared to Hunnan’s province 73 million inhabitants spread across 210,000 square km of land, a situation which Governor Ayade said will make Cross River a local government in Hunnan but due to the Presidential system of Governance and legal system practiced in Nigeria, him more powerful than the Governor of Hunnan province.
The visit also featured presentations from teams of both governments with the Cross River State government treating the Hunnan delegation to a lunch served in Chinese tradition after the signing of the MoUs.
They were also taken on tours round Calabar to certain destinations of interests which includes the summit hills where the Calabar International Convention Center is located where the hitched a ride on the monorail to the Tinapa premier business and leisure resort among others.
The signing comes over a year after Ayade had announced it in November 2015 following his trip to China and comes a week after similar deals in areas of agriculture and tourism were signed with the South African province of Mafikeng.
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