By Stepehen Ubanna
With the strengthened business relationship between Nigeria and the Asian country of Republic of South Korea in the areas ports development, power and renewable energy, gas pipeline, which had produced positive results within the two countries, over the last couple of years, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, under the close watch of Barshir Jamoh, appears to have further extended the business relationship between the two countries to the areas of trade and shipping.
Kim In-Taek, the Consul General, Embassy of the Republic of South Korea, who is nearing his two-year tenure in Nigeria, may have taken advantage of the good business relationship between the two countries to hold a top level meeting with Jamoh, the Director General , NIMASA, in the agency office Complex in Lagos recently .
Note that etween March and now, Jamoh, who replaced Dakuku Peterside, the Rivers state politician as the Director General of the agency following a change in the leadership of the Maritime Regulatory Agency by President Muhammadu Buhari have been exploiting his contacts both within and outside the country including using the his contacts with the friendly Consul Generals, in the Embassies in Nigeria, to further promote the nation’s shipping industry.
Based on his vision for the nation’s maritime sector, the NIMASA, helmsman and In-Taek, were said to have agreed at their meeting that both countries need’’ to intensify their Collaboration in the areas of trade and ship development to further cement their business relationship’’. The duo may have spoken out their mind at the meeting when they insist that ‘’there was need to expand the business relationship in line with global economic dynamics’’.
It is instructive to note that the development of the nation’s maritime potentials has been one of major focus of the Katsina state born Nigerian President economic diversification agenda over the last five years. Jamoh, many believe has cued into the policy agenda going by his message to the Republic of South Korea , Consul General.
He was said to have made the Consul General understand that South Korea is an important partner in the effort to harness the enormous treasures of the country’s marine environment. That much was confirmed by Philip Kyanet, a Deputy Director and the agency Head of Corporate Communications.
Jamoh, the NIMASA, Director General, who could not hide his feeling at the meeting was said to have repeatedly told the Consul General, that ‘’there is a great deal of interest in harnessing the nation’s rich maritime resources and potential as new sources of revenue generation under the government economic diversification drive.
According to Diplomatic sources, the relationship between the two countries dates back to the 1980s. This may have informed why the duo were said to have looked at ‘’the possible areas of Cooperation between the two countries business Community in terms of ship repairs and recycling’’.
Kim In-Taek, the outgoing, South Korea Consul General believes that ‘’to Consolidate on the already existing business relationship between the two countries and extend it further to trade and maritime Corporation, particular, in the areas of ship building, ship repairs and ship recycling, ‘’there is need for the them to put in more effort in other to further improve their existing Cordial relationship and business Corporation .
There is no gainsaying the fact that the development of the country’s shipping industry was part of the three –point agenda of the Jamoh’s Administration in NIMASA, which also included maritime safety and security.
The South Korea Consul General may have gladdened the heart of the NIMASA Director General and his Management Team , when he assured that his country ‘’is willing to develop a good working relationship with the nation’s maritime sector’’, which was what the agency officials were said to be waiting to hear from him at the Lagos meeting in order to follow up the agreement reached with his successor.
Describing the agency as a very important Organisation, In-Taek said ‘’Nigeria has the potentials because it is the leading nation in the West African Sub-region, not only in the shipping sub –sector of the nation’s maritime industry but also in other business areas of the economy.
According to him, Nigeria has the population and the market to its an advantage over all other countries within the African Continent. He noted that this may have informed why the South Koreans can do business with Nigerians successfully. This is evident going by number of the Asian country Companies doing business in Nigeria. Take for instance, the South Korea LG Television and Telephone Companies including, Samsung, a television, Computer and Telephone manufacturing Company which product brands are sold all over the country major markets. Some other South Korean Companies were said to have taken advantage of the inroad created by LG and Samsung, to also push their Television, telephone and Computer products into the Nigeria market. Some of the new Television, manufactured by the South Korean Companies were said to be gaining ground in the Nigerian market and are making waves.
A document obtained from the Korean Trade Investment Promotion Agency, KOTRA, in Lagos, the nation’s Commercial hub center shows that the export volume from the country into Nigeria increased to $540 between January and August, 2019.
But the volume of the country’s exports into the country in this 2020, may have dropped because of the Wuhan Town in Hebei province of the Asian country of China emerged coronavirus , popular, COVID 19. The pandemic and necessitated the lock down of the country and the shutdown of the Nnamdi Azikiwe, and Murtala Muhammed International airports in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory and Ikeja , Lagos, respectively, including other International airports in the country, thus forestalling both Foreign Commercial flights and Cargo planes from flying into the country.
Recall that the Asian country exports goods into the Nigerian markets through the seaports and airports, going by the records from KOTRA, shows that it exported $460,813 million worth of goods into the Nigeria in 2016, $2,121,967 billion in 2017 and $917,850 million in 2018. The Trade statistics shows that the country started gaining foothold on the Nigerian economy in 2016 and which it had sustained , thus competing with Chinese goods .
KOTRA, officials are optimistic that with the gradual relaxation of the lockdown and the reopening of the two major International Airports in the Country, Nnamdi Azikiwe and MMIA, the volume of the south Koorea exports into the country would be on the increase again.
Appealing to Jamoh, the NIMASA ,Director General to extend the same level of Corporation accorded to him in his two years stay in Nigeria to his successor, he disclosed that it is the only way to implement the agreement that had been reached a their meeting without defaulting in the area of ship building.
He did not hesitate in telling Jamoh, the NIMASA, Dirctor general, that South Korea is one of the’’ leading shipbuilder in the world, accounting for about 40% global ship orders ‘’. He may have opened up in order to encourage the agency to patronise the Country ship building Yards. Before now the agency had patronised the South African ship building Yards for most of its ship building contracts. In-Taek, may have won the heart of Jamoh to Patronise South Korea ship building Yards for such ship building contracts.