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Biden Signs $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Bill Into Law on U.S. Lockdown Anniversary

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President Joe Biden signed his $1.9 trillion stimulus bill into law on Thursday, commemorating the one-year anniversary of a U.S. lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic with a measure designed to bring relief to Americans and boost the economy.

The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives gave final congressional approval to the measure on Wednesday, handing the Democratic president a major victory in the early months of his term.

“This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country,” Biden said before signing.

Biden signed the measure before a prime-time speech he plans later on Thursday to herald the anniversary of the lockdown, urge vigilance as the pandemic rages, and offer hope amid a growing number of vaccinated people across the country.

Biden’s signing of the legislation, called the American Rescue Plan, had initially been scheduled for Friday, but White House chief of staff Ron Klain said it was moved up after it arrived at the White House on Wednesday night.

“We want to move as fast as possible,” Klain posted on Twitter. A celebration with congressional leaders would still take place on Friday, he said.

The package provides $400 billion for $1,400 direct payments to most Americans, $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, an expansion of the child tax credit and increased funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Biden, who campaigned on a promise to curb the pandemic more effectively than his Republican predecessor Donald Trump, has told Americans since his January inauguration that more deaths and pain were coming from COVID-19.

With the vaccinated population slowly increasing, Biden is conveying fresh hope even as he urges people to continue to be cautious to prevent further flare-ups.

Biden and top aides are planning a nationwide tour to sell Americans on the benefits of the pandemic relief bill, including Pennsylvania next Tuesday and Atlanta on March 19.

Roughly 530,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States, and about 10% of Americans have been fully vaccinated.

Biden said on Wednesday he would use his 8 p.m. EST (0100 GMT) address to discuss “what we’ve been through as a nation this past year” and lay out the next phase of the government’s COVID-19 response.

The president is expected to warn Americans who, like people worldwide, are weary of pandemic restrictions, not to revert to normal behavior prematurely. Biden has urged continued mask wearing, social distancing and good hygiene, and he has discouraged cities and states from loosening their guidelines on large gatherings even as more localities relax restrictions.

Trump played down the crisis in its early stages and eschewed mask wearing, while repeatedly predicting the virus would soon disappear even as his administration pushed to speed up vaccine development.

The former president and his wife Melania Trump did not appear in a public service announcement released on Thursday encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations and featuring all of the other living former U.S. presidents and their spouses.

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.

Economy

The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business Announce Major Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)

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The Kenya Private Sector Alliance and The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business are proud to announce collaboration to promote, support and facilitate bilateral trade and investment opportunities from Canada into Kenya.

The first engagement will be a virtual trade mission to Kenya from Canada in May.

The 3-year agreement MoU was signed today during the Second Session of the Binational Commission meeting between the Governments of Kenya and Canada – and is subject to ongoing renewal.

“This MoU will solidify the existing trade relations between Kenya and Canada and establish strong bonds between the two countries that will go a long way to boost private sector trade and investment. The MOU will also enable us to exchange business information with CACB which is critical especially to our members who wish to expand their coverage to international market,” explained Ms. Carole Kariuki Karuga, KEPSA CEO.

The Kenya Private Sector Alliance is the apex body of private sector in Kenya.

The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business is a 27-years old organization committed to accelerating trade, business and investment between Canada and Africa.

‘Nairobi is a vital gateway not just to Kenya and the region, but the continent’s economies of the future in Africa,’ noted Garreth Bloor, President of The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business.

‘KEPSA is world leader in the private sector, showcasing excellence on the global stage. This MoU is a great honour for The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business, our leadership, and all our members across Canada,’ says Deepak Dave, the organization’s long-standing representative in Nairobi and Chief Risk Officer at the African Trade Insurance Agency.

‘The joint intended results of the co-operation agreement between CACB and KEPSA seeks to increase two-way trade and investment between Canada and Kenya in all sectors – while laying the foundations to explore trade missions to Kenya by The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business and to Canada by KEPSA,’ said Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, Chair of The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business.

Guided by this MOU, CACB and KEPSA will work together towards on a case-by-case basis exploring events together, exchange of business information and reciprocity members of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance to enjoy the privileges of membership afforded to CACB members, and to ensure KEPSA members are well-positioned in the Canadian market for investment and trade in all sectors and that CACB members are well-positioned in the Kenyan market for investment and trade in all sectors.

“As KEPSA, we remain committed to establishing progressive business and trade partnerships with Canada and other similar minded parties for a mutual benefit of our members as well as those of our CACB counterparts,” said Ms. Carole Kariuki Karuga, KEPSA CEO.

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Economy

India, Spain, the Netherlands, USA, Nigeria’s Major Export Markets -NBS

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Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers

India, Spain and the Netherland top Nigeria’s export markets in the final quarter of 2020, according to the latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The Commodity Price Indices and Terms of Trade Q4 2020 report showed that the United States and China trailed the three.

However, the NBS revealed Nigeria exports mainly crude oil and natural gas during the period under review.

It, “The major export and import market of Nigeria in Q4 2020 were India, Spain, the Netherlands, United States and China.

“The major export to these countries were crude petroleum and natural gas. The major imports from the countries were motor spirits, used vehicles, motorcycles and antibiotics.”

The bureau stated that the all-commodity group import index increased by 0.13 per cent between October and December 2020.

This was driven mainly by an increase in the prices of base metals and articles of base metals (one per cent), boilers, machinery and appliances; parts thereof (1.03 per cent), and products of the chemical and allied industries (0.75 per cent),” it stated.

The NBS, however, noted that the index was negatively affected by animal and vegetable fats and oils and other cleavage products.

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Economy

Onyeama: Qatar To Invest $5bn In Nigeria’s Economy

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The oil-rich state of Qatar is to invest a total of $5 billion in Nigeria’s economy, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Godfrey Onyeama, has disclosed.

Onyeama, who spoke Sunday at a send forth dinner in honour of Nigeria’s Ambassador-designate to the State of Qatar, who is also the outgoing Director of Protocol (DOP) at the State House, Ambassador Yakubu Ahmed, also stated that recent career ambassadorial appointments made by the gederal government was based on merit, experience and professionalism.

The minister further said there had been discussions with Qatar on partnership with Nigeria’s Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), for significant investments in the region of $5 billion in the Nigerian economy.

According to him, ‘‘Qatar is a weighty and strategic country and very strategic in that part of the world and we are putting our best feet forward to advance the interest of our country economically and in other areas.”

He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had visited the State of Qatar in 2016 and the Emir of Qatar, Tamim Bin Hammad Al-Thani, reciprocated with a State visit in 2019.

Onyeama also explained that only trusted hands with a track record of diligence, experience and professionalism in the Foreign Service were recently appointed career ambassadors by the federal government.

The minister said the appointment of Ahmed and other career ambassadors were predicated on posting dedicated and keen Foreign Service practitioners to serve as image makers of the country.

He said: ‘‘Ambassador Yakubu Ahmed is a dedicated professional with a penchant for rigour and detail. He is very capable and one of the best in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is personable, affable, extremely friendly, dispassionate and objective.

‘‘He is going to head a very important mission, a very important country, reckoned to be one of the richest countries in the world, per capita, and there’s a lot we will be doing with the State of Qatar.”

Also speaking, the Deputy Chief of Staff, Adeola Rahman Ipaye, described the honoree as a ‘‘perfect gentleman, very even-natured and always well turned out’’.

Ipaye said he had no doubt that the newly appointed ambassador would serve the country well in Qatar, adding that: ‘‘We are further encouraged that when he completes this assignment, he would return to serve Nigeria in a higher capacity.’’

In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar, while congratulating the outgoing DOP on his appointment, lauded Ahmed for excellent service to the State House and the nation.

‘‘He served this institution and the nation with the deepest sense of responsibility and it is very important that we establish a tradition where the system appreciates those who have served it well and those who will continue to serve it well,’’ he said.

Umar urged the new envoy to keep very fond memories of his time at the Presidential Villa, assuring him of the prayers and goodwill of all the staff.

Responding, Ahmed thanked President Buhari for the great honour and privilege of making him his principal representative in Doha, Qatar.

The Ambassador-designate pledged to deplore his energy and skill to the promotion of the existing cordial relationship between Nigeria and Qatar, particularly in the areas of economic, political, cultural and consular affairs as well as other key areas.

Ahmed, who joined Nigeria’s Foreign Service in 1993, said during his years in public service he had learnt that ‘‘patriotism, selfless service, diligence, determination and perseverance will always result in the achievement of the desired objective’’.

According to him, these virtues would be his ‘‘watchword’’ in the pursuit of Nigeria’s foreign policy objectives and the attainment of national interests.

The Ambassador-designate singled out for appreciation the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, and the state Chief of Protocol, Ambassador Lawal Kazaure, saying he had learnt a lot working under their mentorship.

He expressed gratitude to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Secretary, State House for giving him the opportunity of a memorable work experience in the State House.

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