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IMF Ms. Christine Lagarde Arrives Nigeria on Working Visit

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IMF

The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ms. Christine Lagarde, arrived Nigeria on Monday to begin a four-day visit during which she will meet with President Muhammadu Buhari.

During the visit, which is the first by the IMF managing director to any country this year, Lagarde will also hold discussions with the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and the Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, both of who were at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, to receive her.

While in Abuja, Lagarde is also expected to meet with principal officers of the National Assembly, business leaders, prominent women, and representatives of civil society.

A statement issued by the IMF said the visit to Nigeria would provide an opportunity to strengthen the Fund’s partnership with the largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa.

The statement quoted Ms. Lagarde as saying she looked forward to productive meetings with President Buhari and his colleagues as they address important economic challenges, most importantly the impact of low oil prices.

She added: “Nigeria is working hard to improve its business environment, promote opportunities for growth in the private sector, and strengthen social cohesion, all areas where the government has an important role to play.”

The IMF boss is expected to visit Cameroon after her visit to Nigeria. In Cameroon, Lagarde will meet President Paul Biya and his economic team, as well as private sector executives, women leaders, and other members of Cameroonian society. She will also meet with Finance Ministers from the six member countries of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), delivering a speech to the group on January 8.

The statement added: “As the largest and most diversified economy in CEMAC, Cameroon is well placed to sustain, and reinforce, the momentum of integration,” Ms. Lagarde said. “The country and the entire CEMAC region are confronted with the twin shocks of the oil-price slump and a surge in disruptions related to security. Reinforcing regional integration and implementing ambitious reform agendas in CEMAC countries will be key to secure macroeconomic stability and restore strong and inclusive growth in the region.”

The IMF had forecast a four per cent growth rate for Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2015, as the country continues to contend with the challenge of declining income from the drop in crude oil prices. The growth forecast by the fund was 2.25 percentage points lower than its last year’s projection for Nigeria.

The multilateral donor agency had stated this in its World Economic Outlook (WEO) titled, “Adjusting to Lower Commodity Prices,” last year. In the 2015 budget, the federal government had initially forecast a real GDP growth rate of 6.4 per cent in 2015 but was forced to slash it to 5.5 per cent owing to declining oil prices. Oil accounts for the bulk of government revenue in Nigeria, but global crude prices have more than halved over the past one year.

The IMF had stated that it anticipated growth in sub-Saharan Africa to also slow this year to 3.8 per cent, from five per cent in 2014. Similarly, it forecast that growth in low-income developing countries would also fall to 4.8 per cent this year, more than one percentage point weaker than in 2014, before picking up to 5.8 per cent in 2016.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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