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UK Inflation Falls to 0.3% on Cheaper Airfares

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UK Consumers

The UK’s inflation rate plunged for the first time in April since September, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported.

The inflation fell to 0.3 percent from 0.5 percent recorded in March, much of which is caused by a fall in the prices of airfares, clothing, social housing rents and vehicles.

The ONS said the main causes were falls in the prices of air fares, vehicles, clothing and social housing rents.

The Bank of England said last week that it expected inflation to increase in the second half of the year.

By far the largest downward effect in April came from air transport, with prices falling by 14.2%, compared with a rise of 4.5% between the same two months last year.

This was influenced by the timing of the Easter holidays in March. Fare prices increased dramatically between February and March this year and then fell sharply in April.

The price of clothing and footwear also fell as retailers dropped prices to try to revive sales hit by last month’s cold weather.

An alternative inflation measure, the Retail Prices Index, which is still used to index some rents and pensions, also fell from an annual rate of 1.6% in March to 1.3% in April.

Meanwhile core inflation, which strips out energy, food, alcohol and tobacco, fell to 1.2%, compared with economists’ expectations for 1.4%.

Interest rates

Last week, the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, had to write his sixth letter to the Chancellor George Osborne explaining why CPI inflation was still below the Bank’s 2% target.

In it he said: “The underlying causes of the below-target inflation of the past year and a half have been: sharp falls in commodity prices, the past appreciation of sterling, and to a lesser degree the subdued pace of domestic cost growth.”

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted last week to keep interest rates unchanged at the record low of 0.5%. The Bank is not expected to raise rates until at least next year.

Martin Beck, senior economic advisor to the EY Item Club, said: “We are likely to see inflation remain close to current rates until the latter part of the year, when the base effects associated with last winter’s collapse in the oil price will begin to kick in and finally drag the CPI measure above 1%.

Such a benign outlook is likely to stay the MPC’s hand until well into next year.”

In a separate report, the ONS said that there had been a surge in house prices as landlords rushed to buy before higher stamp duty was imposed.

UK average house prices increased by 9.0% over the year to March 2016, up from 7.6% in the year to February 2016.

The pound lost about half a cent against the dollar immediately after the figures were released, but then recovered to stand at $1.4483, a gain on the day of more than 0.5%.

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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UN Chief Welcomes Historic’ IMF Liquidity Boost for Governments in Need

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As the COVID-19 crisis continues to exacerbate restrictions on government spending throughout the world, the UN chief on Tuesday welcomed the decision by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to approve a $650 billion allocation of Special Drawing Rights to “boost liquidity”.

Secretary-General António Guterres issued a statement on the policy change towards Special Drawing Rights or SDRs, a type of foreign reserve asset that is IMF defined and maintained, as additional funding that could help to pay down debts.

He also underscored that economies not in need of access to cash should “consider channeling these resources to vulnerable low and middle-income countries that need a liquidity injection by replenishing the IMF’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust Fund”.

‘Historic decision’

Yesterday’s IMF’s allocation makes new borrowing available to the fund’s 190 member countries, roughly in proportion to their share of the global economy.

“This is a historic decision – the largest SDR allocation in the history of the IMF and a shot in the arm for the global economy at a time of unprecedented crisis”, said IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.

“The SDR allocation will benefit all members, address the long-term global need for reserves, build confidence, and foster the resilience and stability of the global economy. It will particularly help our most vulnerable countries struggling to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.”

Halting debt default

The Secretary-General stressed that it is also “critical to quickly establish the proposed Resilience and Sustainability Trust at the IMF…[for] a comprehensive response and recovery, including providing more support for vaccinations and debt management and to support the efforts of developing economies in restructuring for inclusive growth”.

Last month, he urged the world’s largest economies to spearhead a global COVID-19 vaccination plan and expand debt relief to developing countries battered by the pandemic.

Bulwark against default

He also advised supporting a new $50 billion IMF investment roadmap aimed at ending the pandemic and driving a fast recovery.

As many developing countries are “teetering on the verge of debt default”, the UN chief encouraged the G20 leading industrialized nations to channel unused SDRs to the Fund’s new resilience and sustainability plan, for these nations.

“Special Drawing Rights also need to be considered as additional funding, not deducted from Official Development Assistance”, he reminded.

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IMF Approves Largest SDR Allocation In History to Boost Global Liquidity

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The Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a general allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) equivalent to US$650 billion (about SDR 456 billion) on August 2, 2021, to boost global liquidity.

“This is a historic decision – the largest SDR allocation in the history of the IMF and a shot in the arm for the global economy at a time of unprecedented crisis. The SDR allocation will benefit all members, address the long-term global need for reserves, build confidence, and foster the resilience and stability of the global economy. It will particularly help our most vulnerable countries struggling to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis,” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said.

The general allocation of SDRs will become effective on August 23, 2021. The newly created SDRs will be credited to IMF member countries in proportion to their existing quotas in the Fund.

According to the IMF, about US$275 billion (about SDR 193 billion) of the new allocation will go to emerging markets and developing countries, including low-income countries.

“We will also continue to engage actively with our membership to identify viable options for voluntary channeling of SDRs from wealthier to poorer and more vulnerable member countries to support their pandemic recovery and achieve resilient and sustainable growth”, Ms. Georgieva said.

One key option is for members that have strong external positions to voluntarily channel part of their SDRs to scale up lending for low-income countries through the IMF’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT). Concessional support through the PRGT is currently interest-free.

The IMF is also exploring other options to help poorer and more vulnerable countries in their recovery efforts. A new Resilience and Sustainability Trust could be considered to facilitate more resilient and sustainable growth in the medium term.

In April last year, Nigeria collected $3.4 billion—equivalent to 100 percent of its quota— under the IMF’s Rapid Financing Instrument, RFI, to tackle the funding gaps created by COVID-19, especially when the crude oil market stagnated.

The financial support, approved by the IMF Executive Board on April 28, 2020, provided critical support to shore up Nigeria’s healthcare sector and shielded jobs and businesses from the shock of the COVID-19 crisis while helping to limit the decline in the nation’s external reserves.

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ECOWAS@46: Commission Seeks Trade Partnership With OPS To Deepen Intra-African Trade

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in commemoration of its 46th anniversary has sought partnership with the Organised Private Sector (OPS) to deepen intra-African trade and lift millions out of poverty.

This was revealed yesterday by the president of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Brou, at a webinar organised in collaboration with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) yesterday.

The theme of the webinar is “Optimising Sustainable Trade, Investment and Regional Economic Integration through Effective Partnership between ECOWAS Institutions and the Organised Private Sector”.

Jean-Claude, represented by Mr. Kolawole Sopola, Acting Director, Trade, ECOWAS, said the commission, in recognition of the private sector’s role, created a stronger framework to boost the sector’s capacity for enhanced trade.

He said that the commission had also adopted more than 100 regional standards with 70 others under development on some products.

Brou listed mango, cassava, textile and garments as well as information and communication technology among such products.

“The growing importance of informal trade compels the ECOWAS to create a framework expected to engender more availability and reliability of up to date information on informal trade.

“The framework also seeks to implement reform that is essential to eliminate obstacles to informal trade among others.

“It is important to improve investment, particularly, private investment, in all sectors and I stress that digitalization must be at the center of activities for economic recovery.

“Infrastructural deficit must be addressed as well as sustainable and cheaper energy for the competitiveness of products.”

“The commission is developing projects on roads, renewable energy and education, needed for private sector development; all these to lift millions in the sub-region out of poverty,” he said.

Dr. George Donkor, President of, ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) said that many western states showed numerous hurdles to overcome as countries continue to export raw materials, therefore maintaining low levels of development.

Donkor, however, said that reforms were already underway to accelerate the capacities of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) to spur private sector development for intra-African trade.

He noted that the EBID 2025 strategy was aimed at ensuring that the private sector benefitted up to 65 percent of the $1.6 billion available facilities.

“A vibrant private sector is key in driving regional integration and securing its active participation and has the potential to create a win-win situation for all participants.

“Increasing credit to the private sector will enhance capacity and the EBID is ready with strategies to ensure that the sector’s capacity is boosted,” he said.

Also, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, said that collaboration across societal sectors had emerged as one of the defining concepts of international development in the 21st century.

He stressed the need for ECOWAS member states to work together as a bloc to take advantage of the opportunities in the African Continental Free Trade Area.

“Since the establishment of ECOWAS in 1975, various protocols and supplementary protocols regulating member countries conduct have been signed.

“Our world has limited resources — whether financial, natural, or human — and as a society we must optimize their use.

“The fundamental of a good partnership is the ability to bring together diverse resources in ways that we can together achieve more impact, greater sustainability and increased value for all.

“This is so because it emphasises the need to work together as a bloc to leverage and take advantage of the opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Area.

“My Ministry will do everything possible to ensure that the vision of the commission is taken to the next level,” he said.

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