The Ukrainian ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Valery Vasyliev, has revealed that Ukrainian government is planning to set up a multi-million dollar vehicle assembly plant in Nigeria as part of its contribution to the growing relationship between the two countries and to compensate for the trade imbalance presently in favor of Ukraine. He unveiled this in Lagos last week.
Vasyliev said the auto plant, whose modality is currently being studied by the Ukrainian authorities, when on stream, will also aim at supplying vehicles to other countries of the Economic Community of West African States, Ecowas, and assist Nigeria in her quest for rapid socio-economic transformation.
Currently, there are over five auto plants in Ukraine with annual production of over 900,000 vehicles. Zaporizhia Automobile Building Plant, ZAZ, is the main automobile manufacturer in the country. In the first half of 2008 ZAZ manufactured 153,407 cars and commercial vehicles, a 29 per cent increase from the same period in 2007. In 2009, the company accounted for 66.9 per cent of Ukrainian car production. According to UkrAutoprom, its share was 54 per cent in January-July 2010.
Unlike other producers in Ukraine, ZAZ is able to assemble vehicles using domestic components. Its products are the Sens, Slavuta and Lanos models, which are exported to CIS and east European markets. The company also assembles models of VAZ, Daewoo, Chevrolet, Cherry and Opel (the European operations of General Motors).
Diplomatic relations between Ukraine and Nigeria was established in 1992 while the Embassy of Ukraine in Nigeria started working in 2001. However, the partner ties between the two countries could be traced back to the 1960-80s, when thousands of Ukrainian specialists worked at the construction of industrial enterprises in Nigeria and hundreds of Nigerian students studied in Ukrainian universities and institutes. Over 5000 Nigerians are currently studying in Ukrainian universities.
Vasyliev said the planned auto plant is part of the effort to consolidate the relationship between the two countries. He also said the development of the Ukraine-Nigeria trade and economic relations is notable by stability and tendency to the growth of volumes of trade turnover because Ukraine considers Nigeria as one of its key partners in Africa.
Vasyliev added that 2010 observed an increase in the volume of bilateral Ukraine-Nigeria trade. Total turnover amounted to $269 million, which at $61 million or 30 per cent more than for 2009. Positive balance for Ukraine on bilateral trade amounted to $231.6 million.
According to Vasyliev, trade between the two countries is in favor of Ukraine, which as of now does not import oil from Nigeria. Ukrainian authorities are anxious to correct the trend.
Ukraine, the East European country, is the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia.