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Qatar backtracks, hosts Nigeria business forum

The Qatari Government has rescinded its earlier decision to decline the request of the Nigerian Government to hold a Business and Investment Forum (BIF) when…

The Qatari Government has rescinded its earlier decision to decline the request of the Nigerian Government to hold a Business and Investment Forum (BIF) when President Bola Ahmed Tinubu visits the country in March.

In a memo (a copy sighted by Daily Trust on Sunday) to Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Embassy of the State of Qatar expressed the intention of the Qatar Chamber of Commerce to host the event on March 3 as proposed by Nigeria.

“Regarding the upcoming State Visit of H.E. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to Qatar from 2nd to 3rd March 2024 and with reference to our Note: Ref: QEA\FA\057\24 dated 22/02/2024 regarding holding of a Business and Investment Forum (BIF) on the margins of Mr. President’s visit to Qatar on 2nd March 2024.

“The embassy has the honour to convey that the Qatar Chamber of Commerce will host the above-mentioned event on 3rd March 2024, as proposed by the Nigerian side,” the embassy said in the new Note Verbale.

An earlier leaked memo from the embassy, addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and dated February 22, 2024, had rejected the request of Nigeria to have the BIF with Qatar, stating that the Arabian country had no running business agreement with Nigeria.

“The embassy has the honour to inform that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in Qatar apologised that it would not be able to hold a business and investment forum as proposed by the Nigerian side due to the following reason: Unfortunately, there is no agreement signed between Qatar and the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Investment Promotion and Protection,” the leaked memo had partly stated.

It had also said the Qatari Minister of Commerce and Industry would be carrying out official missions outside the country during Tinubu’s visit period.

“The State of Qatar will be hosting a web summit during the suggested period and the state’s authorities will be preoccupied with this event,” the leaked memo had added. It would be recalled that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had on Saturday said President Tinubu would embark on the state visit to Doha, Qatar, in March as scheduled.

The ministry’s spokesperson, Francisca Omayuli, had, in a statement, said, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to inform that His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu (GCFR) will embark on a state visit to Qatar from 2nd – 3rd March 2024 to further cement the excellent relations existing between the two countries.

“During the visit, discussions will be held at the highest level, on a wide range of bilateral and economic issues.

“The president will be accompanied on the trip by the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar (OON), among some other ministers and top government officials.

“The ministry is aware of the circulation of a diplomatic correspondence on social media and wishes to state that it will not comment on leaks.”

Also in a statement on Saturday, the Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, said the leaked diplomatic paper by “mischief makers” was not in any way a snub on Tinubu by the Qatari Government.

Onanuga explained that Tinubu’s state visit to Qatar was at the invitation of the Emir of Qatar, His Highness, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani.

“The Note Verbale is about a private sector-led Business and Investment Forum to be held on the margins of President Bola Tinubu’s state visit.

“The event is being put together by the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) and Qatar’s Chambers of Commerce and Industry where business people from Nigeria will engage their counterparts from Qatar on commercial and investment opportunities available in both countries.

“NACCIMA and Qatar Chambers of Commerce and Industry are collaborating to take advantage of President Tinubu’s visit to Doha to mobilise the business community from our two countries to explore opportunities in key economic sectors such as oil and gas, manufacturing, agro-business, construction, real estate, ICT, renewable energy, solid minerals and service sector, among others.

“President Tinubu is expected to proceed to Qatar on the state visit as scheduled and during the visit, the Nigerian leader will engage in high-level bilateral discussions with Qatari leader on many important matters, covering the full range of diplomatic and economic issues,” Onanuga said.

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