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Africa, U.S Talks on AGOA End in Deadlock

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  • Africa, U.S Talks on AGOA End in Deadlock

Talks between African and U.S. officials to review the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) free trade deal ended with no decision.

There is a mutual feeling that AGOA has achieved little since it was set up.

President Donald Trump’s top trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer and other U.S. officials have been in the tiny West African nation of Togo over the past two days to discuss the Clinton-era trade pact with sub-Saharan Africa.

Trump’s “America First” campaign has seen him withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership, threaten to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and seek to renegotiate the U.S.-South Korea free trade deal.

His administration has said little about Africa, and had not previously mentioned the 2000 AGOA trade agreement.

It is not clear whether the U.S. wants to change the deal before it expires in 2025 or extend it further, no decision was made on either count.

AGOA allows tariff-free access for thousands of goods from 38 African nations to U.S. markets.

“The number of countries benefiting from AGOA is very limited, as is the number of sectors,” Peter Barlerin,

Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs, said at the forum on Wednesday.

“We will see if the situation improves in the coming years, but it is also up to the beneficiary countries to enhance their business climate.”

Bernadette Legzim-Balouki, Togo’s trade minister, who presided over the meeting, was equally lukewarm on AGOA.

“Not all the countries eligible have benefited from the law,” she said.

“We are trying to examine the constraints that prevent some African countries from profiting.”

Legzim-Balouki added that the U.S. and the nations eligible for AGOA had agreed on some loose aims.

This, she said includes: to develop a better plan to take full advantage of the pact, for each eligible country to have bilateral talks with the United States, and the need for a mechanism to protect African producers from price volatility.

The U.S. trade deficit with the AGOA countries shrank to about 7.9 billion dollars in 2016 from a peak of 64 billion dollars in 2008, as U.S. shale oil production increases have lessened the need for oil imports from major exporters Nigeria and Angola.

“AGOA is an excellent opportunity but we aren’t making the most of it, mainly due to a lack of knowledge about it,” Beninois agribusiness man Sylvain Adewoussi told Reuters.

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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NCDMB and NEXIM Sign $30 Million Agreement to Support Oil and Gas Services Firms

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The Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) yesterday signed a $30 million agreement on working capital and capacity building fund to support oil and gas services firms.

Simbi Wabote, Executive Secretary, NCDMB and Managing Director, NEXIM Bank, Abba Bello, signed the funding agreement at the Abuja office of the Nigerian content monitoring agency.

Wabote said the Oil Producers Trade Section, Independent Petroleum Producers Group and Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria had raised concerns over funding challenges confronting oil services firms, as this had made most of the companies to consider downsizing their staff.

He said, “The OPTS and IPPG had at some point raised before the NCDMB the inability of most indigenous contractors to provide services to them due to challenges of funding.

“This was especially when we got struck by the COVID-19 pandemic. I recall receiving several letters particularly from IPPG trying to see how we can support this.”

He added, “I also recall receiving similar letters from PETAN when the COVID-19 struck and most of their members had nothing to do anymore.

“This is because companies were shut down and their members were threatening on how to downsize and take Nigerians off their payrolls.

“Based on this, we then set up a committee to say how do we support these firms with the provision of working capital.”

Wabote noted the roll-out date for the fund would be July 1, 2021 and that the fund size of $30m would be boosted by matching funds of the same amount to be provided by NEXIM in naira (to be converted at prevailing official exchange rate).

“The scheme shall cover loans for working capital support and capacity building, oil service contracts, invoice discounting including acquisition of low-end equipment to service short-term contracts/service obligations,” he stated.

He said the target market comprised Nigerian oil service providers which belonged to a professional association in the Nigerian oil and gas industry and commercially viable with a business relationship with either an international oil company or a major Nigerian oil firm.

“Maximum amount that can be borrowed by a single obligor is $1m or its naira equivalent at the official exchange rate prevailing at the time of borrowing,” Wabote said.

He added, “Tenor shall be up to 12 months for working capital loans and up to three years for capacity building loans with moratorium of up to 12 months.

“The applicable interest rate shall be five per cent per annum all-in for dollar-denominated loans and eight per cent all-in per annum for naira-denominated loans and the rate shall be fixed throughout the tenor of the loan.”

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Appointments

LivingTrust Mortgage Bank Appoints Mr. Timothy Olorunsogo Gbadeyan as Company’s Secretary

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LivingTrust Mortgage bank has appointed Mr. Timothy Olorunsogo Gbadeyan as company secretary/head of legal services.

The bank disclosed in a statement signed by Ikechukwu Omuku, the Finance Officer/Head, Investor Relations, LivingTrust Mortgage Bank Plc.

The statement reads “We wish to notify The Nigerian Stock Exchange and the investing public of the appointment Mr. Timothy Olorunsogo Gbadeyan as Company Secretary/Head, Legal Services of LivingTrust Mortgage Bank Plc.

“Mr. Gbadeyan is a consummate corporate attorney with experiential background in deals advisory, real estate finance, facioring, general commercial transactions, corporate governance, company secretarial services and regulatory compliance. Until his appointment, he was the Head of Legal Services of Infinity Trust Mortgage Bank Plc.”

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Farmforte, Others Signs MoU To Strengthen and Sustain Growth in Agricultural Sector

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Farmforte Limited has signed a strategic Memorandum of Understanding with the Agricultural Fresh Produce Growers and Exporters Association of Nigeria; HYBR, a pan-African innovation firm; and ALTS, a consulting and strategy development firm.

The firm said in a statement on Sunday that the partnership would strengthen common interest cooperation and stimulate inclusive and sustainable growth within the agricultural sector, by capitalising on the synergy and comparative advantage offered by each organisation.

Speaking during the signing ceremony, Farmforte Co-Chief Executive Officer, Osazuwa Osayi, said, “Our mid to long-term strategic goals are further reaffirmed, as this partnership will facilitate the sharing of knowledge, ideas, and expertise across the agricultural sector.

“We will collectively address initiatives and approaches concerning agricultural investments, food security, and the overall robustness of the value chain.”

He said the collaboration would also unlock the full potential of the sector and place it on a renewed path for success, especially within a post-pandemic economy.

The President of AFGEAN, Tajuddeen Dantata, said, “By creating dialogue and fostering investment in the horticulture sector, this partnership will endeavor to support Farmforte in its exporting efforts by improving operational efficacy and cost-savings, while ultimately driving socio-economic growth in the country.”

The Chief Executive Officer, HYBR, Charles Ojei, said to drive inclusion, sustainability, job creation, and Nigeria’s overall economic growth, the optimisation of the agriculture value chain was critical.

“This collaboration is a fusion of the complementary capabilities of all partners to move a bigger agenda forward.”

The Managing Partner, ALTS, Akintunde Sawyerr, said, “The goal of this partnership is to support Farmforte’s vision of becoming the largest agribusiness by 2035 via scalable and world-class innovation across its enterprise.”

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