The Nigerian-Russian Business Council was officially established here Thursday with an aim to promote cooperation, collaboration and improvement of trade relationship between the two countries.
At the inauguration ceremony, Aliyu Modibbo, Nigerian minister of commerce and industry, said the establishment of the council is a result of a bilateral meeting between Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Vladimir Putin who proposed the establishment and a center for cooperation in New York in 2005.
Modibbo said the primary objectives of the council include development of trade, economic, scientific and technical ties and promotion of large investment and infrastructural projects.Others include the establishment of closer contacts and direct contacts between Nigerians and Russians, creation and expansion of information database for cooperation and diversification of both import and export arrangements.
The minister said the council's inauguration would bring into effect the provisions of an already existing bilateral trade agreement.
He challenged the council to facilitate economic cooperation between the two countries in the areas of trade, industry, engineering and ICT and to assist in the promotion and propagation of the "Commerce 44" project.
"Commerce 44" is a special project under which 11 commodities, manufactured products and solid minerals had been identified and targeted for export to 11 foreign countries.
Earlier, President of the Nigerian-Business Council Goodie Ibru said the trade relations would be mutually beneficial to Russia and Nigeria.
"We believe that the business council and the center for cooperation when established will not only increase trade and investment within the two countries but there will be multiplier effect," Ibru said.
He said a recent study by an international consulting firm, RUSAL, had indicated Russia would remain the fastest outward investor among emerging countries up to 2010.
He, therefore, urged the organized private sector to take full advantage of the enabling environment being created by the two governments by keying into the opportunities provided by the creation of the Council.
With the inauguration of the council, Nigeria is expected to establish a center for cooperation in Moscow while Russian would set up a similar center in Abuja.