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UN unanimously backs new sanctions on North Korea

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  • UN unanimously backs new sanctions on North Korea

The UN Security Council on Monday unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea, slapping a ban on textile exports and restricting shipments of oil products to punish Pyongyang for its sixth and largest nuclear test.

With backing from China and Russia, the council adopted a US-drafted sanctions resolution just one month after banning exports of coal, lead and seafood in response to North Korea’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the tough new measures were a message to Pyongyang that “the world will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea,” but she also held out the prospect of a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

“We are not looking for war. The North Korean regime has not yet passed the point of no-return,” Haley told the council.

“If it agrees to stop its nuclear program, it can reclaim its future. If it proves it can live in peace, the world will live in peace with it.

“If North Korea continues its dangerous path, we will continue with further pressure. The choice is theirs.”

The South Korean government welcome the resolution, calling it a “grave warning that (North Korea’s) continued provocations will only intensify its diplomatic isolation and economic pressure.”

“North Korea must realize that denuclearization is the only way to guarantee its security and economic development,” a statement added.

During tough negotiations, the United States dropped initial demands for a full oil embargo and a freeze on the foreign assets of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un in a bid to win support from China and Russia.

The resolution instead bans textile exports, cuts off natural gas shipments to North Korea, places a ceiling on deliveries of refined oil products and caps crude oil shipments at their current level.

It bars countries from issuing new work permits to North Korean laborers sent abroad and seeks to phase out the practice by asking countries to report on the date for ending existing contracts.

Some 93,000 North Koreans work abroad, providing Kim’s regime with a source of revenue to develop its missile and nuclear programs, according to a US official familiar with the negotiations.

Under the measure, countries are authorized to inspect ships suspected of carrying banned North Korean cargo but must first seek the consent of the flag-state.

Joint ventures will be banned and the names of senior North Korean official and three entities were added to a UN sanctions blacklist that provides for an assets freeze and a global travel ban.

It was the eighth series of sanctions imposed on North Korea since it first tested a nuclear device in 2006.

– ‘Big mistake’ to avoid talks –

The United States and its allies argue that tougher sanctions will pile pressure on Kim’s regime to come to the negotiation table to discuss an end to its nuclear and missile tests.

Russia and China are pushing for talks with North Korea, but their proposal for a freeze on Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear tests in exchange for suspending US-South Korean military drills has been rejected by the United States.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the council it would be a “big mistake to underestimate this Russia-China initiative” for a so-called freeze-for-freeze, adding that Moscow would “insist on it being considered.”

Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi again called for talks “sooner rather than later.”

China, North Korea’s sole ally and main trading partner, had strongly objected to an oil embargo initially sought by the United States out of fear that it would bring the North’s economy to its knees.

Instead, the level of crude oil is capped to the four million barrels it currently receives from a Chinese pipeline, while deliveries of refined oil products are limited to 500,000 barrels for three months from October 1 and to two million barrels from January 1 for a period of 12 months.

That would amount to a 10 percent cut in oil products, according to the US Energy Information Administration, which estimates annual exports to North Korea at nearly 2.2 million barrels.

The US official said the ban on textile exports would deprive North Korea of some $726 million in annual revenue.

Washington has said military action remains an option in dealing with Pyongyang and threatened to cut economic ties with countries that continue to trade with the it.

Earlier, North Korea said it would not accept any chastisement over its nuclear and missile program, which it says is vital to stave off the threat of an American invasion, and threatened to cause the US “the greatest pain and suffering it had ever gone through in its entire history,” in an official statement.

Pyongyang has staged a series of missile tests in recent months that appeared to bring much of the US mainland into range.

It followed up with a sixth nuclear test on September 3, its largest to date, which it said was a miniaturized hydrogen bomb.

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.

Government

NHIS Moves To Recover N10B From Heritage Bank and N11B Trapped In The Federation Account

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NHIS Moves To Recover N10B From Heritage Bank and N11B Trapped In The Federation Account

The National Health Insurance Scheme is making efforts to recover some missing funds estimated at about N27bn, Prof. Mohammed Sambo, the Executive Secretary of the scheme revealed.

While expressing optimism that the NHIS Amendment Bill pending before the National Assembly for passage would change the face of health insurance in the country, he said a review of the NHIS Act would allow the agency to enroll more Nigerians.

Sambo stated these in the progress report of the NHIS which he presented after a management meeting in Kaduna.

Sambo said, “We have about N11bn trapped in the Federation Account since 2014. We have been meeting with the Minister of Finance to see how to get it back. Also, we have been pursuing another N10bn lodged in Heritage Bank and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has been helping us to recover it.

“When there was COVID-19, N6bn was taken from the NHIS account without notice. So, we are working on recovering those resources and we have agreed at the level of management that a proportion of the money recovered will be put on strategic investment”.

The NHIS CEO also spoke on the progress made in improving the subscription for the insurance scheme, saying over 10 million Nigerians had now subscribed for it.

According to him, while about 10,269,996 enrolled into the scheme as of last Friday, the NHIS has been able to save money from its cost-saving reforms.

Sambo said, “The population of Nigerians that have enrolled in the health insurance scheme has risen to 10,269,996 from 6 million earlier reported by the National Demographic Health Survey”.

Sambo explained that as part of strategies to increase its subscriber base, NHIS has mapped the entire segments of the Nigerian population, including the Nigerian Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

The NHIS boss said: “We have mapped the population, and we are engaging the management of the NYSC to ensure that they are covered in the framework of the national health insurance scheme. You know that there was a presidential directive in the past that all NYSC members should be covered by the scheme, but due to budgetary constraints, it was not implemented”.

He stated that contrary to insinuation that NHIS has not been able to achieve much in terms of teaching universal health insurance for all in the last 20 years, “the major impediment is the law limiting its utilisation”.

Sambo said the best way to fund health insurance is by pooling resources through mass enrolling in the health insurance scheme at all levels.

The executive secretary said while appreciable progress is being made at the federal level, not much is happening in the state and local government areas in terms of enrolment into state health insurance scheme.

He disclosed that one of the recent decisions taken by the management is to ensure NHIS is fully automated to achieve seamless operations.

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Government

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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