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US, Nigeria trade valued at over $9bn in 2020 – Amb. Leonard

By Oluwaseun Sonde

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The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard has said that two-way trade between the great nations US and Nigeria has expanded to a value of over $9 billion, while United States is proud to be one of the largest foreign investors in Nigeria.

She made this known on Wednesday, while reflecting on achievements of year 2020 and looking forward to the promise of a New Year, Amb Leonard said US actively supports the expansion of internet infrastructure in Nigeria, providing over $3.6 million in project preparation.

According to her, “In 2021, we expect to see additional opportunities to reduce the digital divide. President Buhari signed the US-Nigeria Open Skies agreement that will permit increased aviation links, generating new two-way trade and commercial opportunities, which will lead to even greater business and employment opportunities in 2021.

She added that US is a steadfast supporter of Nigerian democracy. “Nigerian youth mobilized and brought international attention to police abuse and successfully called for police reforms. We will seek opportunities in 2021 to contribute technical assistance in the national and state-level efforts to follow through on EndSARS commitments.

She said, “I whole-heartedly congratulated Nigeria in August for attaining a wild polio virus-free status and recognized that no country could have achieved this great feat without the support of its partners.

“This effort, buttressed by the Centers for Disease Control and USAID investments of approximately $220 million dollars combined over the last eight years, demonstrated the dynamism of state and local activities to strengthen surveillance, join in polio campaigns, create polio outbreak response plans, and encourage routine immunization”.

Amb Leonard noted that 2020 will long be remembered as the year of the pandemic COVID-19, while looking back to honor the lives of more than 1.5 million people worldwide who lost their lives to this vicious pandemic.

“In 2020, the United States provided more than $73 million in assistance for the COVID-19 response. This includes the delivery of 200 ventilators pledged during a conversation between Presidents Buhari and Trump in April, epidemiological COVID detection surveys, technical assistance, and service plans”.

She further said that no country can advance the well-being of its people without peace and security. “Our ongoing U.S. security cooperation programs with Nigeria include equipment sales, grants, education, and training programs.

“Countering Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa remain top priorities for both of our nations. Maritime security cooperation, through joint exercises such as Obangame Express, demonstrate the strength of our partnership to end piracy and encourage economic activity in the Gulf of Guinea”.

“Looking forward to Nigeria hosting the US-Nigeria Binational Commission in 2021. The Commission remains a premiere platform of engagement for our governments to expand cooperation and advance shared goals, particularly in the areas of trade and investment, development, good governance, and security cooperation”, she said.

While wishing Nigerian people quality moments with loved ones over the holidays, and time to rejuvenate the spirit as US, Nigeria welcome a new year of engagement and partnership. “With our 60 years young relationship, there is much to look forward to in 2021”, she said.

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