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Boris Johnson Lends Support to Australia-UK Free Trade Deal

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  • Boris Johnson Lends Support to Australia-UK Free Trade Deal

Sydney (AP) — British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Thursday that he supports a proposed free trade agreement between the United Kingdom and Australia, as his country looks to strengthen its relationships with allies ahead of Britain’s departure from the European Union.

Johnson and his Australian counterpart, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, announced the two nations would boost their trade, intelligence-sharing and military ties following an annual meeting in Sydney that included the defense ministers of both countries.

“As we go through the process of leaving the arrangements of the European Union, we are going to widen our horizons and work even more closely,” Johnson told reporters. “We have today reaffirmed our shared goal of concluding a free trade agreement as soon as possible after we leave the EU.”

Johnson, who had advocated for Britain’s EU departure, said any deal would include an “open and generous” visa regime for Australians looking to travel to the U.K.

“What we will be able to do once we take back control of our immigration arrangements is to have a system that is fair,” he said. “We want to welcome talented Australians.”

The ministers were short on specifics over what impact a trade deal would have, though Johnson did have an answer for a British journalist who asked whether it would result in cheaper Australian wine for Britons.

“Never mind Australian wine, which is, of course, delicious,” Johnson said. “There are tariffs on Scotch whisky in this country which seem to me to amount to a cruel deprivation of the Australian people of Scotch whisky at the price they could have it. I merely throw it out there. Whereas I don’t think we have any tariffs at all on, for instance, Bundaberg Rum.”

Thursday’s ministerial meeting also focused on counterterrorism efforts and the nuclear threat posed by North Korea. Both British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon and Australian Defense Minister Maris Payne urged China to use its influence over North Korea to help de-escalate the crisis.

“China has to engage,” Fallon said. “With international influence comes responsibility. It is now for Beijing to use the influence it has over the North Korean regime to get it to abandon its program.”

In a lighter moment, the famously jovial Johnson made a point to thank Bishop — an avid runner — for giving him a gift intended to help his own jogging regimen.

“Somebody brought you news I had been out jogging over the last couple of mornings in your wonderful Botanic Gardens in Sydney and you were kind enough just now to give me a very beautiful pair of compression tights — as worn by Hugh Jackman, I’m given to understand,” Johnson said. “So thank you, Julie.”

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

Energy

Nigeria’s Power Sector to Get $7.5bn from $30bn African Electrification Initiative, Says Minister Adelabu

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Power - Investors King

Minister of Power Adebayo Adelabu has said that Nigeria is set to receive a portion of a $30 billion investment aimed at electrifying Africa.

During a visit to Splendor Electric Nigeria Limited, Adelabu revealed that the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have committed to this ambitious initiative with Nigeria slated to receive approximately $7.5 billion, or 25% of the total fund.

The groundbreaking initiative is designed to extend electrification to an additional 300 million Africans over the next five years.

This large-scale project aims to address the energy deficit that has long plagued the continent and is expected to transform the power infrastructure significantly.

Adelabu expressed optimism about Nigeria’s role in the project, citing the country’s large population and ongoing power sector reforms as key factors in securing a substantial share of the funds.

“I want to inform you of the proposal or the intention, which is at an advanced stage, by the World Bank and the African Development Bank to spend about $30 billion to extend electrification to an additional 300 million Africans within the next five years. Nigeria is going to participate fully in this. I am confident that nothing less than 20% or 25% of this fund would come into Nigeria because of our population,” Adelabu stated.

The minister’s visit to Splendor Electric Nigeria Limited, a porcelain insulator company, underscores the government’s commitment to involving local businesses in the electrification drive.

The investment will focus on enhancing and upgrading power infrastructure, which is crucial for improving electricity access and reliability across Nigeria.

Despite the promising news, Nigeria continues to face significant challenges in its power sector. The country’s power grid has suffered frequent collapses, with the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics reporting less than 13 million electricity customers and frequent nationwide blackouts.

The International Energy Agency highlighted that Nigeria’s national grid experienced 46 collapses from 2017 to 2023, exacerbating the nation’s energy crisis.

To combat these issues, the government is also advancing the Presidential Power Initiative, a project in collaboration with Siemens, which aims to build thousands of new lines and numerous transmission and injection substations.

Adelabu noted that the pilot phase of this initiative is nearing completion and that Phase 1 will commence soon.

With over 200 million people and a chronic energy shortfall, Nigeria’s power sector is in urgent need of overhaul.

The additional $7.5 billion from the African Electrification Initiative represents a critical step toward achieving reliable and widespread electricity access.

The investment is expected to stimulate not only infrastructure development but also economic growth, creating opportunities for local companies and improving the quality of life for millions of Nigerians.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Climb as Markets Eye Potential US Rate Cuts in September

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Oil prices rose during the Asian trading session today on speculation that the U.S. Federal Reserve may begin cutting interest rates as soon as September.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, increased by 32 cents to $82.95 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil climbed 34 cents to $80.47.

The anticipation of rate cuts stems from recent U.S. inflation and labor market data indicating a trend towards disinflation and balanced employment, according to ANZ Research.

The Federal Reserve is set to review its policy on July 30-31, with expectations of holding rates steady but providing clues for potential cuts in September.

The potential rate cuts could stimulate economic activity, increasing demand for oil. This optimism has been partially offset by recent concerns over China’s slower-than-expected economic growth, which could dampen global oil demand.

President Joe Biden’s announcement to not seek re-election and endorse Vice President Kamala Harris had minimal impact on oil markets.

Analysts suggest that U.S. presidential influence on oil production is limited, although a potential Trump presidency could boost oil demand due to his stance against electric vehicles.

In response to economic challenges, China surprised markets by lowering key policy and lending rates. While these measures aim to bolster the economy, analysts remain cautious about their immediate impact on oil demand.

With OPEC+ production cuts continuing to support prices, the focus remains on the U.S. Federal Reserve’s next moves.

Any decision to cut rates could further influence oil prices in the coming months, highlighting the interconnectedness of global economic policies and energy markets.

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Crude Oil

Dangote Refinery Clash Threatens Nigeria’s Oil Sector Stability

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Nigeria’s oil and gas sector is facing a new challenge as a dispute between Dangote Industries Limited and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Agency (NMDPRA) intensifies.

The disagreement centers on claims by NMDPRA that diesel from the Dangote Refinery contains high sulfur levels, making it inferior to imported products.

The $20 billion Dangote Refinery, located near Lagos, has the potential to process half of Nigeria’s daily oil output, promising to reduce dependency on foreign fuel imports and create thousands of jobs.

However, the recent accusations have cast a shadow over what should be a significant achievement for Africa’s largest economy.

Industry experts warn that the ongoing conflict could deter future investments in Nigeria’s oil sector.

“Regulatory uncertainty is a major disincentive for investors,” said Luqman Agboola, head of energy at Sofidia Capital. “Any factor affecting foreign investment impacts the entire value chain, risking potential energy deals.”

The regulatory body, led by Farouk Ahmed, maintains that Nigeria cannot rely solely on the Dangote facility to meet its petroleum needs, emphasizing the need for diverse sources.

This position has stirred controversy, with critics accusing the agency of attempting to undermine a vital national asset.

Amidst these tensions, energy analyst Charles Ogbeide described the agency’s comments as reckless, noting that the refinery is still in its commissioning stages and is working to optimize its sulfur output.

In response, Dangote Industries has called for fair assessments of its products, asserting that their diesel meets African standards.

The refinery’s leadership argues that certain factions may have ulterior motives, aiming to stifle progress through misinformation.

As the dispute continues, the broader implications for Nigeria’s oil sector remain uncertain. The outcome will likely influence not only domestic production but also the country’s standing in the global energy market.

Observers hope for a resolution that supports both industrial growth and regulatory integrity, ensuring stability in a sector crucial to Nigeria’s economy.

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