China offers Nigeria $4.5bn loan for agric equipment

Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State

China has offered Nigeria a $4.5 billion loan for agricultural machinery and infrastructure, a Nigerian state governor said on Tuesday.

Zamfara state governer Abdulaziz Yari said the loan had a 20-year repayment period at an interest rate of 1 percent.

“China is giving us a credit line of $4.5 billion for the procurement of strategic machinery for rural development and agriculture,” Yari, who chairs the forum of Nigeria’s state governors, told reporters after a meeting with the president and agriculture minister.

Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy and an OPEC member, is in its first recession in 25 years largely due to low oil prices.

The government has prioritised growth in the agriculture sector to reduce its reliance on crude oil sales, which make up two-thirds of government revenue.

Agriculture minister Audu Ogbeh said he and the governor briefed the president on “developments following our visit to China in April last year” and the progress of negotiations on issues related to agricultural machinery.

Yari said the loan offer would be presented to cabinet colleagues on Wednesday and considered by lawmakers for final approval.

In January, Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy, Mr Zhao Linxiang said trade between Nigeria and China stood at 9.5 billion dollars in 2016.

Linxiang gave the figure at a dinner to host participants of different training courses in China in Abuja.

The envoy said though bilateral relations between both countries faced challenges, Nigeria remained China’s fourth largest trading partner in Africa.

“In the first 11 months of last year (2016), our bilateral trade reached 9.5 billion dollars. It is a great achievement under the current condition the Nigerian economy is.

“So far, China’s total investment in Nigeria reached 2.2 billion dollars and Nigeria is China’s important destination in Africa. Our investment cooperation is expanding.

“A large number of Chinese investors and enterprises are concentrated in Nigeria and cover various fields like oil and gas exploration, free trade zone project, steel processing, manufacturing, agriculture, broadcasting and pharmacy among others,’’ the counsellor said.

He added that implementation of the 10 major China-Africa cooperation projects, which began in 2016 was progressing.

The envoy said it was important for both countries to promote win-win cooperation, seek common development goals and maintain high-level exchanges.

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