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High Port Charges: Nigerian Importers Divert Cargoes to Neighbouring Countries

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Importers in Nigeria are now diverting cargoes to neighbouring countries to avoid undue restrictions at the country’s ports and high custom duties, a report has disclosed.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Financial Derivatives Company Limited (FDC), Mr. Bismarck Rewane, disclosed this in his monthly economic news and views for September presented at Lagos Business School recently. This, he attributed to higher customs duties, bottlenecks and forex shortages, adding that smuggling activities are expected to increase.

Clearly, this may jeopardise the federal government’s efforts to boost non-oil revenue following the fall in crude oil prices.

Nigeria is officially in an economic recession.

The National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), recently identified lengthy and cumbersome documentation process on export, multiplicity of regulatory/security agencies, high and duplicated terminal/ shipping company charges and process and lack of export infrastructures as major obstacles that affect export process from Nigerian ports.

In a letter to the Executive Director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and copied President Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), NCMDLCA had called on the federal government to take urgent steps to remove the obstacles before it is too late.

The letter signed by its National President, Lucky Amiwero alleged that: “ The federal government agencies duplicate the process of quality inspection with that of the appointed federal government pre-shipment inspection on export. This constitutes serious bottleneck due to lengthy and cumbersome process, procedure and cost, which resulted in attendant delays and high costs that prompted the movement of our product to our neighbouring West African Ports.”

On the duplication of charges by shipping companies, the customs agents said: “The Nigerian Shipping companies in line with the contract of carriage, handle import container that are loaded back to the country of origin as empty container without any charge due to the level of export activities that is still very low in the country. The shipping lines Terminal Delivery Charges (TDC) is a charge that is not tied to service, as such charge is duplicated in the charges of terminal operators. Their charges do not represent any service to exporters in Nigeria in any form.”

Continuing, Rewane in the report pointed out that ships awaiting berth decreased to 41 from 45 last month, adding that ships awaiting berth are expected to decline further.

According to the report, weakness in macroeconomic condition in the country has translated to profitability decline by most quoted companies. He said earnings and profitability fell short of expectations as investor confidence worsened.

For the banking industry, the report pointed out that 74.6 per cent of industry revenues in their recently released half-year results amounted to N1.21 trillion concentrated in tier I banks.

“Industry’s profitability is slowed by high loan loss charge offs and rising operating costs. Impairment charge continues to record high credit losses of N218.9 billion for first half of 2016, from N41.3 billion as at first half of 2014. Size matters as tier II banks struggles to grow profit before tax. Tier II profit before tax as at the first half of 2016 was N50.3 billion, as against the N59.2 billion recorded in the first half of 2014,” it added.

CBN is conducting stress tests as well as routine examinations on banks in the light of growing non-performing loans (NPLs) and deteriorating asset quality due to naira weakness.

This, the FDC boss said raises apprehension on the state of Nigerian banks as the last released financial stability report was for December 2015.

“The economy has found its bottom and the only way is up. But the pace of recovery is dependent on pace of policy response,” it added.

According to the report, the top four fastest growing sectors accounted for only six per cent of new jobs as at the first quarter of this year, adding that sector activity does not mean job creation and employment. It pointed out that growth does not translate into increased consumption and income.

In its review of the real estate sector, it showed that Lekki has the highest vacancy rate at 65 per cent, adding that affordable rents are six to 10 per cent above asking rents of $780psqm in Victoria Island.

Residential index rose by 6.8 per cent quarter-on-quarter as commercial index remained flat at 148. Prime office rent drop by six per cent to $810 per sqm per annum.

“Nigeria in recession increases vacancy rates further. Carrying cost of properties is excruciating as landlords reduce rental payment to annually. Previously, they used to collect two to three years payment. Pedigree of tenants remains important. Replacement cost far in excess of market value,” it stated.

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.

Crude Oil

Oil Posts 2% Gain for the Week Despite India Virus Surge

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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.”

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Commodities

Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange to Commence Gold Trading

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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.

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Crude Oil

Oil Nears $70 as Easing Western Lockdowns Boost Summer Demand Outlook

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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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