Despite the fall in global oil prices, China has declared its interest in the Nigerian oil market. In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, the Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria, Mr. Zao LingXiang said “the total amount of export to China was only about one million barrels in 2015, that was just 1.3 percent of Nigerian annual oil export. In my opinion, it really doesn’t matter whether Iran comes back or not; Chinese companies want to import more crude oil from Nigeria.” He also stated that Nigeria was China’s third largest trade partner in Africa. In 2014, the trade volume between both countries amounted to $14.94 billion.
Mr. Zao LingXiang explained that Nigeria’s trade with China’s was at a figure of 8.3 percent, which is the total trade volume with Africa, and 42 percent of the total trade volume between China and Africa. China is also interested in focusing on other areas of cooperation with Nigeria which will be beneficial to both parties.
China, the most populous country in the world, with the fastest global economic growth in the last three decades, has become a leading player in the global economy. Its national economy is now bigger than that of Japan, or the European Union countries combined.
Over the last ten years, China has removed about 300 million of its people from abject poverty, no mere feat, which has led to economic development in the country. Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, with vast reserves of oil and gas, needs China’s financial and technical assistance in the development of its decaying infrastructure.
China has the largest foreign exchange reserves in the world, a part of which is being invested in Africa, where growth prospects are becoming more attractive by the day. Nigeria is eager to diversify its trade with other countries by reducing its trade dependence on western industrial countries. China, with its massive foreign reserves, is one of the few countries in the world, today, that can assist Nigeria with its huge finance problems, most especially in the area of infrastructure, in critical sectors such as roads, the railways, bridges and airports. Nigeria will not achieve its huge economic potential unless it attracts investments and China can offer the country this assistance with loans and by contributing to the critical sectors of its economy.
This development could be the succour an oil dependent country like Nigeria needs, considering the current crises rocking the economy. China’s plan to buy into Nigeria’s oil will also strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries, as the latter seeks to explore other areas of benefit from the former.