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Nigeria Seeks Fair Trade as Buhari Signs AfCFTA

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  • Nigeria Seeks Fair Trade as Buhari Signs AfCFTA

Nigeria became the 53rd country to join the African Continental Free Trade Area on Sunday after President Muhammadu Buhari signed the AfCFTA Agreement in Niamey, Niger Republic.

The Republic of Benin also joined the group, bringing to 54, the total of African countries out of 55 that had endorsed the AfCFTA agreement. Only Eritrea is left out.

The Nigerian President appended his signature to the agreement at the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union on the Launch of the Operational Phase of the AfCFTA.

“A total of 26 African countries have deposited instruments of ratification, with Gabon being the latest after depositing her instrument of ratification during the Extraordinary Summit.

The AfCFTA Agreement entered into force on May 30, 2019, thirty days after having received the twenty-second instrument of ratification on 29th April 2019 in conformity with legal provision”, a State House statement by the Special Adviser to Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said on Sunday.

But, speaking at the event in Niamey, Buhari noted that much as Nigeria supported free trade among the African countries, the trade must also be fair to all.

He said, “Nigeria wishes to emphasise that free trade must also be fair trade.

‘‘As African leaders, our attention should now focus on implementing the AfCFTA in a way that develops our economies and creates jobs for our young, dynamic and hard-working population.

‘‘I wish to assure you that Nigeria shall sustain its strong leadership role in Africa, in the implementation of the AfCFTA. We shall also continue to engage, constructively with all African countries to build the Africa that we want.”

Buhari spoke in details on Nigeria’s position on the trade agreement, especially on how best to make it successful.

He stated, ‘‘I have just had the honour of signing the agreement establishing the AfCFTA on behalf of my country, the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

‘‘This is coming over a year since the AfCFTA Agreement was opened for signature in Kigali, Rwanda, at the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union, on 21st March 2018.

‘‘In fact, you will recall that the treaty establishing the African Economic Community was signed in Abuja in 1991.

‘‘We fully understand the potential of the AfCFTA to transform trade in Africa and contribute towards solving some of the continent’s challenges, whether security, economic or corruption.

‘‘But it is also clear to us that for AfCFTA to succeed, we need the full support and buy-in of our private sector and civil society stakeholders and the public in general.

‘‘It is against this background that we embarked on an extensive nationwide consultation and sensitisation programme of our domestic stakeholders on the AfCFTA.

‘‘Our consultations and assessments reaffirmed that the AfCFTA can be a platform for African manufacturers of goods and providers of service to construct regional value chains for made in Africa goods and services.

‘‘It was also obvious that we have a lot of work to do to prepare our nation to achieve our vision for intra-African trade which is the free movement of ‘made in Africa goods’ .”

‘‘Some of the critical challenges that we identified will require our collective action as a Union and we will be presenting them for consideration at the appropriate AfCFTA fora.

‘‘Examples are tackling injurious trade practices by third parties and attracting the investment we need to grow local manufacturing and service capacities.’’

Meanwhile, the Executive Director of Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Mr Segun Awolowo, has disclosed that 22 non-oil sector products have been identified by the Federal Government for export, worth about $30,000bn in earning yearly.

Awolowo, who spoke with State House Correspondents in Abuja, also said Nigeria could create as much as 500,000 new export-related jobs by belonging to the AfCFTA.

He named cocoa, cotton, cement, leather, cashew, Sesame, Shea butter, palm oil, fertiliser, petrochemicals, and rubber among other products to be exported in favour of Nigeria.

Awolowo added that Buhari had already been given a briefing on the products.

He explained, “What we hope to achieve is to raise more revenue for Nigeria from other sources. You know 90 per cent of our revenue is from oil and we cannot survive. Even though oil prices are rising a bit because of Iran, there is a problem there.

“But we should not rest on our oars because; those days of $140 per barrel are gone forever. So, we have to look inwards and produce more.

“The zero oil plan is about raising production and productivity. We identified 22 sectors where we can earn foreign exchange apart from oil. We are hoping that in the next 10-15 years, we will be able to raise $150bn from sources outside oil. That is what we are working on and we are galvanising the whole states behind us in order to raise production and productivity.

“We are working with the relevant ministries, departments and agencies to achieve this. You know the Central Bank of Nigeria just announced an initiative on five of our products and giving them low interest rates to farm and raise production.”

On the potential in cocoa, for example, Awolowo noted, “Cocoa is an immediate win for us because it’s been our number one non-oil revenue making. But we are on less than 300,000 metric tons; Ghana is heading to 900,000, and Cote d’ Ivoire is almost two million metric tons.

“So, how do we compete? Meanwhile, if you see the land mass in Nigeria, you can imagine what we can do. Another sector is Shea nut; cashew is another breadwinner for us, so let us raise production, let’s give our farmers, plantations low interest loan so that they can raise production for us. We are also looking at value addition for all because that is the way you create jobs, we cannot continue to sell the raw materials.”

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.

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Economy

Nigeria Aims for N2 Trillion Annual Revenue from Marine and Blue Economy by 2027

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Nigeria has set an ambitious target of generating N2 trillion in annual revenue from this sector by the year 2027.

The revelation came from the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, during an ongoing ministerial briefing in Abuja on Tuesday.

Outlined within a comprehensive strategy, the plan involves a three-pronged approach to significantly increase revenue generation and operational efficiency within the marine sector.

Oyetola highlighted the imperative of automating revenue collection processes to eradicate bottlenecks and enhance transparency and accountability.

By deploying revenue assurance technologies, the aim is to ensure accurate billing aligned with established contracts and services rendered, thereby preventing revenue leakage.

The ministry plans to commission revenue enhancement studies targeting various departments and agencies to identify avenues for maximizing the use of existing assets.

This includes leveraging concessions to the private sector and fostering public-private partnerships to ensure efficient utilization of national assets.

Recognizing the vast potential of the blue economy, Nigeria intends to embark on investment promotion campaigns aimed at both domestic and international investors.

This strategy seeks to unlock new revenue streams within the marine sector, paving the way for sustainable economic growth.

Minister Oyetola emphasized the importance of harnessing Nigeria’s marine and blue economy, noting its significant role in driving economic diversification and reducing dependency on traditional sectors.

He underscored the government’s commitment to fostering an enabling environment for investment and innovation within the sector.

The ambitious revenue target reflects Nigeria’s determination to tap into its vast marine resources, which have long been underutilized.

With strategic planning and concerted efforts, the country aims to position itself as a key player in the global blue economy, unlocking opportunities for sustainable development and prosperity.

As Nigeria charts its course towards achieving this ambitious goal, stakeholders across government, industry, and civil society will play a pivotal role in driving forward the necessary reforms and initiatives to realize the full potential of the marine and blue economy.

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Investor Optimism Dwindles One Year After Tinubu’s Reforms

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Bola Tinubu

One year into President Bola Tinubu’s administration, the initial investor enthusiasm over his ambitious economic reforms is fading.

Despite significant changes aimed at revitalizing Nigeria’s economy, persistent challenges such as currency volatility and high inflation are dampening investor confidence.

Upon assuming office in late May 2023, Tinubu enacted a series of reforms intended to attract foreign investment and boost dollar liquidity.

These included eliminating costly fuel subsidies, appointing ex-Citibank executive Olayemi Cardoso as the new central bank governor, and overhauling the country’s exchange-rate policies, which effectively devalued the naira.

While these steps initially sparked optimism and increased dollar inflows, the momentum has since waned.

Kevin Daly, a portfolio manager at London-based Abrdn Investments Ltd., highlighted the need for further stability in Nigeria’s foreign exchange market before considering additional investments in local currency bonds.

“We are likely to add to local currency bonds once FX volatility declines, but the timing of that remains up in the air,” Daly remarked.

He emphasized that the central bank cannot be the sole provider of FX liquidity for the market, calling for more foreign portfolio flows and a degree of de-dollarization.

Data from Tellimer Ltd. reveals that investor inflows into Nigeria’s foreign-exchange market fell by nearly 20% in April, averaging $200 million daily, and dropped further to $180 million in the first three weeks of May.

Since June, the naira has depreciated by almost 67% against the dollar. Additionally, the reintroduction of fuel subsidies, following public backlash over rising living costs, has further complicated the economic landscape.

Inflation remains a significant hurdle, with rates soaring to approximately 33.7%, far outpacing the central bank’s policy rate of 26.25%.

This has deterred investors like Ayo Salami, chief investment officer at Emerging Markets Investment Management Ltd., from venturing into local currency bonds, deeming them unattractive under current conditions.

Another critical issue is the repatriation of funds. While Nigeria offers higher equity valuations and yields compared to some emerging and frontier markets, peers like South Africa, Egypt, Kenya, Turkey, and Pakistan present lower repatriation risks, more credible policy frameworks, and advanced policy corrections.

Ladi Balogun, CEO of Lagos-based FCMB Group, underscored the importance of consistent and clear policy direction to restore investor confidence.

“I think as long as we can be consistent and clear about policy direction, when it comes to monetary policy and the like, then I think you will see confidence return, then you will see liquidity return,” Balogun stated. “That is when you will see international investors come back.”

As Nigeria navigates these economic challenges, the road to restoring and sustaining investor confidence remains complex and fraught with hurdles. The coming months will be crucial in determining whether Tinubu’s administration can achieve the stability and growth it seeks.

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IMF Boosts China’s 2024 Growth Forecast to 5% Amid Strong Start

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has raised its forecast for China’s economic growth in 2024 to 5%, up from its earlier estimate of 4.6%.

This adjustment reflects a robust expansion at the start of the year and additional government support aimed at stabilizing and invigorating the economy.

The IMF’s latest projection aligns with China’s target growth rate of around 5% for the year.

The upward revision comes on the heels of a better-than-expected 5.3% growth in the first quarter, indicating a strong recovery trajectory despite ongoing challenges in the housing market, which continues to dampen domestic demand.

Gita Gopinath, the IMF’s First Deputy Managing Director, highlighted the dual forces driving this positive outlook.

“We certainly are seeing that consumption is recovering, but it has some ways to go,” Gopinath noted in a recent interview with Bloomberg News.

“The strength we’re seeing in public investment remains. Private investment is still weak, mainly because of the weakness in the property sector.”

The IMF’s statement emphasized the need for Beijing to enhance monetary and fiscal support, particularly addressing the protracted housing crisis.

Gopinath underscored the urgency of protecting buyers of pre-sold unfinished homes and accelerating the completion of these projects to stabilize the sector.

Earlier this month, Chinese authorities unveiled new measures to support the real estate market.

These include easing down-payment requirements for buyers and injecting 300 billion yuan ($42 billion) of central bank funding to assist local governments in purchasing excess inventory from developers. However, Gopinath argued that these steps should be expanded.

“Fiscal policy should prioritize providing one-off central government financial support for the real estate sector,” she stated, adding that the current low inflation environment offers room for further monetary easing.

Beyond the domestic landscape, the IMF is also monitoring the implications of international trade tensions. Gopinath expressed concerns over the rising number of trade restrictions globally, noting that about 3,000 new trade barriers were introduced in 2023 alone, triple the number in 2019.

These developments are contributing to an emerging trend of geopolitical fragmentation in global trade.

“There has been an increase in more restrictive trade policies across countries,” Gopinath said. “Trade across countries that are more geopolitically aligned is holding up better than trade across countries that are less geopolitically aligned.”

The IMF’s revised forecast underscores a cautiously optimistic outlook for China’s economy.

While strong public investment and government support are driving growth, the ongoing weaknesses in the property sector and global trade tensions present challenges that need to be carefully navigated.

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