Perishable cargoes/vegetables exporters have counted their losses over the recent shut down of export sheds at the cargo areas of Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos by the Nigeria Customs Service without considering its effect on delicate exports.
The exporters expressed worry that such interruptions portend grave danger for the economy’s agro-allied produce, adding that as a country that is encouraging exports, Customs and other government agencies at the airport should provide them incentives rather than discourage such efforts.
The Nigeria Customs Service (NSC) last week closed the export shed for days over allegation that prohibited items meant for export were hidden in the sheds.
Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, the CEO of ABX World, a major agro-allied exporter, Captain John Okakpu said that the agro-allied exporters numbering over 100 were hurt by the decision of Customs to shut down the sheds although the facilities were re-opened two days later.
Captain Okakpu, who said the exporters lost over N100 million worth of goods within 48-hours the export warehouses were shut, called on the federal government through the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to urgently commence full-scale investigations into the immediate and remote causes of the warehouses closure to avoid future occurrences.
He said that with government’s focus on agriculture as one of the panaceas to the rising inflation, restrictions in capital flows and depleting forex reserves, agro-allied exporters deserve protection as partners.
“The truth is, we have made fundamental mistakes in the past as a nation by becoming a mono-economy. But, we cannot continue to lick the wounds. We have to reverse the case and agriculture provides us with a better option to grow. That is why as agro-allied exporters, we are seriously worried over the actions of some government officials, who seem not to underestimate the peculiarities of perishable items for export.
“Shutting down the warehouses was actually an indictment on Customs, as its officials ought to have carried out surveillance before shutting down all export businesses at the Lagos Airport. If such act is not checkmated in future it will compound issues and create a logjam in the system. Or, do we prefer to ship our cargos to countries like Ghana or Cameroun before they can be shipped to Europe and other markets? Presently, the yam sold in Europe as Ghana yams are actually from Nigeria,” Okakpu said.
He remarked that any action contradicting federal government’s agricultural road map, which was launched by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo recently should not be treated with levity.
“We made efforts to reach relevant authorities. For instance, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council was outraged because they understand the bad image the incidence will create at the international market. The agricultural road map by the government is a step in the right direction hence we are in full support of the programme. However, we pray for its implementation and not, like in the past after drafting tiger-paper legislations, conferences and researches, they end up in the shelves,” he said.
Oil Posts 2% Gain for the Week Despite India Virus Surge
Oil prices steadied on Friday and were set for a weekly gain against the backdrop of optimism over a global economic recovery, though the COVID-19 crisis in India capped prices.
Brent crude futures settled 0.28% higher at $68.28 per barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude advanced 0.29% to $64.90 per barrel.
Both Brent and WTI are on track for second consecutive weekly gains as easing restrictions on movement in the United States and Europe, recovering factory operations and coronavirus vaccinations pave the way for a revival in fuel demand.
In China, data showed export growth accelerated unexpectedly in April while a private survey pointed to strong expansion in service sector activity.
However, crude imports by the world’s biggest buyer fell 0.2% in April from a year earlier to 40.36 million tonnes, or 9.82 million barrels per day (bpd), the lowest since December.
In the United States, the world’s largest oil consumer, jobless claims have dropped, signalling the labour market recovery has entered a new phase as the economy recovers.
The recovery in oil demand, however, has been uneven as surging COVID-19 cases in India reduce fuel consumption in the world’s third-largest oil importer and consumer.
“Brent came within a whisker of breaking past $70 a barrel this week but failed at the final hurdle as demand uncertainty dragged on prices,” said Stephen Brennock at oil brokerage PVM.
The resurgence of COVID-19 in countries such as India, Japan and Thailand is hindering gasoline demand recovery, energy consultancy FGE said in a client note, though some of the lost demand has been offset by countries such as China, where recent Labour Day holiday travel surpassed 2019 levels.
“Gasoline demand in the U.S. and parts of Europe is faring relatively well,” FGE said.
“Further out, we could see demand pick up as lockdowns are eased and pent-up demand is released during the summer driving season.”
Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange to Commence Gold Trading
With the admission of Dukia Gold’s diversified financial instruments backed by gold as the underlying asset, Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange is set to commence gold trading.
According to Dukia Gold, the instruments will be in form of exchange-traded notes, commercial papers and other gold-backed securities, adding that it will enable the company to deepen the commodities market in Nigeria, increase capacity, generate foreign exchange for the Nigerian government to better diversify foreign reserves and create jobs across the metal production value chain.
Tunde Fagbemi, the Chairman, Dukia Gold, disclosed this while addressing journalists at Pre-Listing Media Interactive Session in Lagos on Thursday.
He said, “We are proud to be the first gold company whose products would be listed on the Lagos Futures and Commodities Exchange. The listing shall enable us facilitate our infrastructure development, expand capacity and create fungible products.
“This has potential to shore up Nigeria’s foreign reserve and create an alternative window for preservation of pension funds. A gold-backed security is a hedge against inflation and convenient preservation of capital.”
“As a global player, we comply with the practices and procedures of London Bullion Market Association and many other international bodies. Our refinery will also have multiplier effects on the development of rural areas anywhere it is located,” he added.
Mr Olusegun Akanji, the Divisional Head, Strategy and Business Solutions, Heritage Bank, said the lender had created a buying centre for verification of quality and quantity of gold and reference price to ensure price discovery in line with the global standard.
Oil Nears $70 as Easing Western Lockdowns Boost Summer Demand Outlook
Oil prices rose for a third day on Wednesday as easing of lockdowns in the United States and parts of Europe heralded a boost in fuel demand in summer season and offset concerns about the rise of COVID-19 infections in India and Japan.
Brent crude rose 93 cents, or 1.4%, to $69.81 a barrel at 1008 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 85 cents, or 1.3%, to $66.54 a barrel.
Both contracts hit the highest level since mid-March in intra-day trade.
“A return to $70 oil is edging closer to becoming reality,” said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.
“The jump in oil prices came amid expectations of strong demand as western economies reopen. Indeed, anticipation of a pick-up in fuel and energy usage in the United States and Europe over the summer months is running high,” he said.
Crude prices were also supported by a large fall in U.S. inventories.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) industry group reported crude stockpiles fell by 7.7 million barrels in the week ended April 30, according to two market sources. That was more than triple the drawdown expected by analysts polled by Reuters. Gasoline stockpiles fell by 5.3 million barrels.
Traders are awaiting data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration due at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) on Wednesday to see if official data shows such a large fall.
“If confirmed by the EIA, that would mark the largest weekly fall in the official data since late January,” Commonwealth Bank analyst Vivek Dhar said in a note.
The rise in oil prices to nearly two-month highs has been supported by COVID-19 vaccine rollouts in the United States and Europe.
Euro zone business activity accelerated last month as the bloc’s dominant services industry shrugged off renewed lockdowns and returned to growth.
“The partial lifting of mobility restrictions, the expectation that tourism will return in the near future, and the lure of the psychologically important $70 mark are all likely to have contributed to the price rise,” Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg said.
This has offset a drop in fuel demand in India, the world’s third-largest oil consumer, which is battling a surge in COVID-19 infections.
“However, if we were to eventually see a national lockdown imposed, this would likely hit sentiment,” ING Economics analysts said of the situation in India.
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