By Dipo Olowookere
Despite falling into recession in 2016, Nigeria generated over N1 trillion from American businesses operating in the country.
This information was revealed on Tuesday in Lagos by the American Business Council (ABC) at the launch of its first annual economic survey of the impact of US companies in Nigeria.
Data for the report was derived from responses by 48 American companies operating in Nigeria, with many of them seeking government’s intervention in the areas of foreign currency access and policy, crime and security, among others.
Addressing the media, President of the council, Mr Lazarus Angbazo, who doubles as the Chief Executive GE Business Operations Nigeria, stated that from the above amount, about N34.4 billion was paid as tax to the Nigerian government in 2016.
He said further that over N340 million was spent on training as well as over N217 million on corporate social responsibility activities across the country.
However, he stressed that US-owned companies in Nigeria are willing to deepen their investment in the country especially if the operating environment becomes more favourable.
Mr Angbazo described the US as a “natural partner for Nigeria, having a long standing commitment to Nigeria.
“There is a natural affinity between Nigerians and Americans and the longevity of American business community in Nigeria as exemplified by the number of the brands that have come.
“Some American companies have been in existence since Nigeria independence and have partnered and invested in Nigeria.
“We look forward towards deepening the relationship, ABC has particularly focused on making Nigeria the best investment destination in Africa for American companies. I think we are in various sectors like oil and gas, food, agriculture, medicine, healthcare, transportation and so on,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, Executive Secretary/CEO of the American Business Council, Mrs Margaret Olele, stated that, “We have moved beyond talking about what the challenges are but perhaps supporting the government in terms of funding, moved right in the trenches with the government thereby unlocking the potentials in various sectors.”
She added that, “Our President of the Council, Mr Lazarus Angbazo, is the co- chair of one of the committee set up by the Vice-President on the ease of doing business and you see members of ABC working deliberately with all the passion they have to ensure that the environment gets right. When the environment gets right, our businesses are okay as well as the government.”
On his part, the Commercial Counsellor, Mr Brent Omdahl, told newsmen that, “My role as the commercial counsellor at the US embassy is to help American companies succeed.
“Many entrepreneurs who have worked with American firms like GE, Exxon Mobil, UPS, PWC and others have learned various management skills necessary to become entrepreneur and start their own business.
“In recognition of this, we sat down with the department of commerce, our Secretary with the Minister of Trade and Investment to develop the concept of a US-Nigeria Commercial and Investment dialogue.
“The idea was really to tap in and influence the power of the private sector in both the America and Nigeria private sector aimed to attract more US investments into three sectors in Nigeria: infrastructure, agriculture value chain, and digital economy overlay by two overarching principles.”
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