BY CHIOMA DIBIA, Abuja
The US Deputy Secretary of Treasury, Wally Adeyemo has disclosed that the United State’s investment in Nigeria would trigger economic growth especially for the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
This, he believed would build the type of ecosystem that could help Nigeria to be successful over time, adding that there is no quick and easy solution to Nigeria’s economic challenges.
The Nigerian-born Adeyemo disclosed this recently during the Lagos Business School parley on the US–Nigeria Economic Relationship, as part of President Joe Biden administration’s commitment to deepening the US–Africa economic and trade relationship.
He noted that the US is highly interested in maintaining and increasing investments into Nigeria in order to strengthen international bonds between the two nations.
Adeyemo lamented that Nigeria lacked a macroeconomic framework to attract more dollar-denominated foreign direct investments into its economy.
He said that while the early steps of the APC-led administration would attract investors, that there are some reservations from investors on the repatriation of their funds.
Responding to a question about investments and the Nigerian economy, Adeyemo added: “The early steps the government has taken is good in terms of what they have done and what they are trying to do with unifying the exchange rates.
“More needs to be done and they recognise that. The truth is as companies around the world become more comfortable with their approach, you will expect that Nigeria will be a destination for Foreign Direct Investment.”
He harped on the need for the Federal Government to develop a macroeconomic framework that would demonstrate its commitment to the fundamentals, which he believed would attract foreign investors to Nigeria and strengthen the economy.
The deputy secretary enjoined the Federal Government to reform Nigeria’s economy and safeguard investors funds due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russian-Ukraine war, and a wobbly exchange rate policy.
“We need to make sure that as you are making the transition, which will take longer than anyone wants, that you are taking steps to make sure that you are helping Nigerians who are feeling it the most.
“But I think the most important point, is that you need to put reforms in place that allows people to bring in capital into the country in a way that they are secured and can take their money out when they choose to and they continue to make investments,” he added.
He hinted that the recently introduced reforms in Nigeria were long overdue, adding that the US government had indicated its readiness to partner with Nigeria in the implementation of the reforms.
“And this is not just the US, the World Bank, the AFDB, and other international institutions too. I know that before I came, I spoke to the president of the World Bank, who has seen the president of the administration and is ready to work with them in terms of trying to help make the transition easier, especially for Nigerians feeling the pinch,” he said.
Adeyemo noted that the United States is one of the largest foreign investors in Nigeria, with the country being the US’s second-largest African trading partner.
He informed that the US government provided Nigeria with over $1billion assistance in 2022, to support Nigerians with access to health care and reduce food insecurity.
The deputy secretary said though the path to the unification of foreign exchange would not be easy but the government must be praised for taking the difficult step.
He informed that unifying Nigeria’s foreign exchange rates would create macroeconomic stability that would attract foreign investment, adding that Nigeria should be interested in FDIs from companies that are keen on investing in its economy and people.
Adeyemo assured that Nigeria’s investment portfolio would increase once it addresses macroeconomic framework.
On security crisis, he added: “There are two different security challenges, but we are very interested in working with Nigeria to address them because the insecurity that exists in Nigeria doesn’t exist only within its borders.
“We know that to be the case. That is why America is interested in a strategic and economic partnership with Nigeria. We also want to ensure that we are making investments in communities all over Nigeria to demonstrate to people that there are economic opportunities in their communities that should take them away from doing actions that hurt them and their communities.”
He said that there is a legitimate fear that corruption and mismanagement would impact the dividend of the reforms among Nigerians, stating that Nigeria must prioritise the integrity of its financial system as part of the economic reforms.
Adeyemo frowned that cowardly kidnappers, corrupt officials and fraudsters are seeking ways to launder their money, stressing that securing the banking system would reduce the chances of terrorists and other criminals to misuse the financial system.
He commended President Tinubu’s administration for accepting to work with the Financial Action Task Force to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing.
BY CHIOMA DIBIA, Abuja