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Goldman Sachs, HSBC Back Cameron Push to Keep Britain in the EU

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Chief executive officers from HSBC Holdings Plc to Goldman Sachs International were among the business leaders to endorse Prime Minister David Cameron’s campaign to keep Britain in the European Union.

Richard Gnodde and Michael Sherwood, the London-based co-CEOs of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s international division, HSBC’s Stuart Gulliver and Bill Winters of Standard Chartered Plc signed a letter to the Times newspaper saying that staying in the bloc would be best for the British economy. Barclays Plc and Lloyds Banking Group Plc weren’t represented.

Bankers appeared more eager to back Cameron than representatives of other industries, with only 36 of the U.K.’s 100 biggest companies publicly endorsing the statement that “leaving the EU would deter investment, threaten jobs and put the economy at risk.” Grocery chains J. Sainsbury Plc and Tesco Plc were among those not included.

The publication of the letter comes four months to the day until a referendum on so-called Brexit, as Cameron prepares to intensify his campaign after making risks to the economy a central plank of his case for remaining in the EU.

The pound continued its drop against its developed-nation peers on Tuesday following the decision by London Mayor Boris Johnson, Britain’s most popular politician, to support withdrawal from the EU, setting the stage for a heated campaign.

‘Unrestricted Access’

In their letter, the executives said that business needs “unrestricted access to the European market of 500 million people in order to continue to grow, invest and create jobs.”
The signatories, including bosses from Marks and Spencer Group Plc, Vodafone Group Plc and Heathrow Airport Ltd., employ 1.2 million people and represent about 200 companies, the Times said.

“A vote to remain offers the best of both worlds — it secures our place as a powerhouse in the global economy, while remaining in the world’s largest free trade zone,” John Holland-Kaye, the CEO of Heathrow, said in a separate statement on Tuesday.

Other finance chiefs to back Cameron were HSBC Chairman Douglas Flint, Adrian Montague, chairman of Aviva Plc, Xavier Rolet of London Stock Exchange Group Plc and Tidjane Thiam of Credit Suisse Group AG.

Voter Choice

Perhaps worried about alienating consumers, pay-television provider Sky Plc joined Tesco and Sainsbury in not endorsing the letter. The referendum is “a matter for the British people,” Sainsbury said in a statement on Monday.

Barclays said in a statement that, while it didn’t sign up to the letter as it’s against the bank’s policy, “on balance we think it is in the interests of our customers and clients” to stay in the EU.

The financial industry is more likely to be worried about life outside the EU than other business sectors given an exit would jeopardize the so-called passporting arrangements which allow firms to operate from the U.K. without needing a separate subsidiary on the continent.

Mega Banks

In an interview with Bloomberg News published on Tuesday, ING Groep NV Chief Executive Officer Ralph Hamers said the Dutch lender would probably follow other major banks in reducing its London staffing levels if the U.K. left the EU. HSBC has already said it would probably relocate about 1,000 investment bankers to Paris.

“If some of the mega banks, the markets banks, leave London, we will go with the flow,” Hamers said. “Either the circus of the financial markets is located in London or it’s going to be somewhere else.”

Cameron warned lawmakers on Monday that the economy would suffer if the U.K. left the EU and it would be less secure against threats from Russia and terrorism.

Labour Push

The opposition Labour Party will on Tuesday intensify its own push to stay in the EU with former minister Alan Johnson using a speech in western England to argue manufacturing jobs would be threatened by “Brexit.”

“For U.K. manufacturing jobs, our EU membership is absolutely critical — two-thirds of British jobs in manufacturing are dependent on demand from Europe,” Johnson will say, according to his office.

The latest opinion poll, from ICM, showed 42 percent of respondents in favor of staying in the bloc, with 40 percent opposed and 17 percent undecided. The online survey of 2,021 voters was conducted almost entirely before Johnson’s announcement. A Survation poll carried out Saturday showed a 15 percentage-point lead for staying in. That’s in line with other recent phone surveys, which have consistently shown big leads for the status quo, while more frequent online polling has been inconclusive.

Bloomberg

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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ECOWAS Imposes Sanctions on Guinea Junta Over Coups

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ECOWAS Bans Junta-Investors King

West African leaders have decided to impose travel bans and freeze the financial assets of members of Guinea’s ruling junta and their families after a coup more than a week ago.

The decisions were announced Thursday after an Extraordinary Summit on Guinea in Ghana’s capital, Accra. Mediators with the regional group had traveled to Guinea to meet with junta leaders and check on the condition of deposed President Alpha Conde.

ECOWAS president Jean Claude Brou said the West African leaders have also insisted that there should be no “need for very long transition for the country to return to democratic order.”

The targeted sanctions come after Guinea’s coup leaders set a number of conditions for releasing Conde, according to the foreign minister of Ghana.

ECOWAS had already warned it will impose penalties on the junta in Guinea unless it immediately releases Conde, who has been held at an undisclosed location since being detained during the Sept. 5 coup in Conakry.

“We are coming to address a burning issue in the region,” said Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the current chair of the regional bloc, ahead of the summit. He was joined by presidents or high-ranking officials from eight of the other 15 ECOWAS countries.

Members of the ECOWAS delegation that visited Conakry after the coup presented their reports at Thursday’s meeting, said Ghanaian Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway. The junta has set a number of conditions for complying with the demands of regional mediators, she said but declined to disclose what they are.

The delegation has spoken with Conde’s doctor “who ascertained that indeed physically, he’s very well,” she said. However, she said, the ex-president is still coming to terms with the fact that his government has been toppled after more than a decade in power.

“For anybody who has gone through such a traumatic experience like he did, mentally, it’s not the best, not to say that mentally we found anything wrong, but he was quite shocked; he’s still in a state of shock,” she added.

Meanwhile, in Conakry, junta leaders were also set to meet with mining company representatives on the third day of a special summit to chart Guinea’s political future. Junta leader Col. Mamady Doumbouya has sought to reassure the country’s most vital economic sector that the political changes will not impact existing mining projects in the country, which has the world’s largest reserves of bauxite.

Guinea’s coup leaders have yet to make public their proposed timeframe for handing over power to a civilian transitional government, nor have they outlined how quickly new elections can be organized.

Conde had sparked violent street demonstrations last year after he pushed for a constitutional referendum that he used to justify running for a third term, saying term limits no longer applied to him. He ultimately won another five years in office last October, only to be toppled by the coup 10 months later.

At the time he came to power in 2010, he was Guinea’s first democratically elected leader since independence from France in 1958.

The regional bloc also planned to tackle concerns over whether a second member state, Mali, is making enough progress toward a return to democracy more than a year after a military takeover there.

In Mali, the ruling junta led by Col. Assimi Goita has committed to holding new elections by February 2022, though mediators who recently visited have expressed concern about whether that deadline now can be met.

Goita overthrew Mali’s president in August 2020 and then agreed to a civilian transitional government and an 18-month timeframe for holding a vote. However, only nine months after the first coup he effectively staged a second one, firing the civilian interim leaders and ultimately naming himself as president of the transition.

ECOWAS has not reinstated Mali’s membership in the bloc, marking the first time since 2012 that two of the 15 member states are suspended concurrently.

ECOWAS President Brou said there was the need to revisit the organization’s 2001 protocol on good governance “because a lot of things have changed or improved.”

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COVID-19: Indian Travellers Regains Entry Into Nigeria

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The federal government of Nigeria on Monday said travellers from India will no longer be denied entry into Nigeria as the country has been removed from the list of flagged countries.

In May, in an effort to curb the spread of the global health pandemic, the federal government had banned travellers from Brazil, India and Turkey from visiting the country.

Speaking on Monday during the national briefing of the presidential steering committee (PSC) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), said the situation in the Asian county has improved.

“The Global cases recorded continues to decline to about 4m cases weekly, although it is less, compared to last year and the situation calls for caution because we are not out of the woods yet. Africa and Nigeria in particular, continue to record rising cases and lots of fatalities,” Mustapha said.

“This can really be curtailed and reduced minimally if we adhere strictly to the NPIs. I recognize the fact that people are fatigued and tired but let me encourage all Nigerians not to give up. We all need to come together to defeat this dreaded disease so we can return to our normal life.

“The most potent way of getting out of this situation is through vaccines, which science and research has presented to us. I call on every eligible person to come out and be vaccinated. There are various choices now. We have AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson and we expect Pfizer to be delivered very soon. There will be enough vaccines to go around soon. By the second quarter of 2022, we would have received about 52 million doses of the vaccines.

“To ease travels for fully vaccinated Nigerians, we are exploring the principles of reciprocity between Nigeria and other nations. For the time being, Nigerians are advised to always carry their vaccination card details or barcode on their electronic devices for easy access especially for those travelling outside the country.

“​Compliance with protocols laid down for quarantine to ensure control remains a source of worry to the PSC. The need to review the protocol has become expedient to align with existing global protocols and realities. On this note, the PSC will adopt a sustainable model and policy that will be unveiled soon. To begin with, India has been removed from the list of flagged countries in view of improved situation in that country.”

“On this note, the PSC will adopt a sustainable model and policy that will be unveiled soon”, he said.

Osagie Ehanire, minister of health said evidence has so far shown that the Delta strain is already dominant in Nigeria.

He warned that though the third wave of the pandemic may appear to be leveling out because there have been no catastrophic increases in infections and fatalities, it is not wise to assume that the threat is gone, especially as cases are fluctuating and have to be identified by genomic sequencing.

The minister assured that even though there is a 25 percent shortfall in CICAX supply, Nigeria will not run low on vaccines.

Ehanire further noted that there were reports of new coronavirus mutations circulating in other countries, and assured that government will monitor with all tools available to respond appropriately.

Also speaking, Faisal Shuaib, executive director of, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency noted that vaccine cards were becoming a requirement across the country.

He, therefore, warned against any attempt to produce/procure and sell fake COVID-19 vaccination cards.

“Anyone who ventures into this would be apprehended and made to face the law. This is a criminal offense, in which both the buyer and seller would be prosecuted.

“We, therefore, urge all Nigerians to report any suspected attempt by any person or group of persons to buy or sell a COVID-19 vaccination card to us via our call centre line on 0700 220 1122, any of our social media handles (Facebook and Instagram), at the nearest police station or any other law enforcement agency. No one needs to cut corners on COVID-19 vaccination.

“The vaccines are free, and the vaccination cards are given free of charge at any of our designated health facilities after your vaccination,” Shuaib said.

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South Africa Plans To Introduce Covid Passport

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South Africa has announced plans to introduce a vaccine passport amid widespread mistrust of the Covid-19 vaccine in the continent’s most affected country.

President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement in a televised address to the nation and assured that the immunization of the adult population was a necessary prerequisite to fully reopen the economy and avoid a fourth wave of infections, while the number of cases has dropped sharply in the country.

In two weeks, we will “provide more information on a system of ‘vaccine passports’ that can be used as proof of vaccination for various purposes and events,” he said without providing further details.

He added that the “sustained decline in infections (…) over the past few weeks” would, however, allow for a relaxation of the restrictive measures starting Monday.

The nightly curfew will be extended by one hour, to 11 p.m., and the limits on gatherings will be raised.

Restrictions on the sale of alcohol will also be eased, although protective masks will still be required in places open to the public.

The peak of a third stubborn wave due to the Delta variant is now over. Over the past seven days, the average number of new daily infections has dropped 29 percent from the previous week and 48 percent from the week before, Ramaphosa said.

“Our most urgent task is to vaccinate our population,” he said, noting that vaccine supply “is no longer a constraint.”

“If many people are not vaccinated (…) the risk of new and more dangerous variants emerging is much greater,” he warned.

After delays in the supply and distribution of doses, the vaccination campaign is now struggling to take off because of skepticism about the vaccine, especially among men.

To date, just over seven million people have been fully vaccinated in South Africa, with more than a quarter of adults have received at least one dose.

The country’s goal is to vaccinate 40 million South Africans, or about two-thirds of the population, by next March.

Authorities have recorded more than 2.8 million cases of the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, and 84,877 deaths, making it the worst affected country in Africa by the pandemic.

South African scientists are monitoring a new local variant with an unusually high mutation rate, dubbed C.1.2, although its presence is so far marginal among new cases detected in the country.

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