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The Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC), Richard Burge who was in Nigeria recently has given insights on the advantages of doing business within the Commonwealth circle.
In an interview with Business Hilights Bureau Chief in Abuja, he said “The CWEIC has a very simple job. Its job is to help businesses across the Commonwealth nations to sell each other’s products and promote investments. Its job is to help businesses understand how much easier it is to do business in Commonwealth nations as well as between a Commonwealth nation and outside nation”.
According to him, “We think there are three big features around that. The first one is business English. Everyone in the commonwealth uses English to do business and the second thing that every country tries to enforce contract and we support that.
Burge identified the third feature, “We tend to do things in very similar ways – the regulators, standard organisations and others, all tend to do things the same way. So, these are the three big things. There are other intangible things about the Commonwealth council”.
“I have worked in 62 countries and when you are from a Commonwealth country and move to another Commonwealth country, you feel like you are at home because there is just something familiar about it. For me, if you are a business, it is a huge advantage because it gives you an advantage, and it gives you confidence. In the end, all these reduce the transaction cost of doing business.
“There is a report that says that the cost of doing business among the Commonwealth nations has been 19 per cent less over the year.
The Commonwealth Council boss averred that “Emotionally, it is less costly and that translates to more fun while doing business. We started in London and we have just started to open hubs among the Commonwealth nations. We would be in every member country and in some countries; we may end up having more than one hub. One of the first hubs we are having is Lagos that is for two reasons – this is one of the economic engines of the Commonwealth and obviously in Africa. The second thing is that as a person, I like Lagos”.
On how best to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) and retain them, Burge said “Nigeria has to continue to recognise that there is still a prejudice out there about Nigeria. There is no point complaining about it, we just must change it. I know it is changing because when I was here in 1985 to 1990, this was a very different country. A huge transformation has taken place. So, I know that. From my job, I have been telling people that this is a good place to do business”. “Nigerian businesses are always upfront and ‘loud.’ You hear from Kenyans that Nigerians are so loud. So, this is an exuberant business environment. Another thing Nigeria has to get right is barrier to trade and solve the corruption problem because majority of Nigerians want to do things the right way.
“There is a huge middle-class in Nigeria and one of the largest communities of middle class in the world is in Nigeria. I think India has the largest middle-class community and Nigeria’s proportion of middle class is growing which is good for business. It means that domestic capital is being raised. People save money, put money into pension and other diverse investments.
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