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Russia, Nigeria trade agreement follows arms pledge
11 March 2001 , 07:03476
Following their historic summit here this week, the leaders of Russia and Nigeria pledged to forge new economic links and international cooperation, which according to some analysts, could also boost ties between Russia and Africa and begin to reverse years of neglect.
From now on, Russia is not going to ignore priorities of its African policy, argued Boris Petruk, senior researcher at the Institute of African Studies (IAS), a Moscow-based think-tank. Many African nations, including Nigeria, "remember and appreciate support" from the former Soviet Union, he said.
Ending his March 6-7 official visit to Russia on Wednesday, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a 10-page Declaration on Partnership and Friendly Relations, designed to encourage "all forms" of trade and investments, notably in the energy sector. The visit of the leader of Africa's most populous nation was described by Russian official media as a major bridge-building event.
In both the formal declaration and remarks to journalists the Russian and Nigerian leaders vowed to give priority to bilateral economic ties. The volume of bilateral trade should be raised, Obasanjo said and reportedly ordered his ministers to raise the trade turn-over up to US$500 million per annum within the next five years. Last year, trade between Russia and Nigeria was only $84.5 million.
Through the 1990s, Russia's trade and economic relations with African countries declined, despite perceived "compatibility" of the Russian and African economies, according to the estimate of the IAS. Trade with sub-Saharan Africa amounts to less than 3 percent of Russia's more than $100 billion foreign trade turnover.
Putin agreed that bilateral trade should be boosted. Energy and military cooperation, as well as issues of completing the construction of still the unfinished Ajaokuta steel plant, were discussed during the talks.
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