Economy

ITC boss applauds Buhari for AfCFTA commitment

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The Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC), Ms Arancha Gonzalez, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

Gonzales gave the commendation on Tuesday while speaking to the Nigeria News Agency on the sidelines of the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) 2019.

The WEDF coincides with the ongoing 2019 Africa Industrialisation Week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

She said that the Nigerian President and his team must have come to terms with the reality of the urgent desire to enhance economic competitiveness of Africa.

Gonzalez said that for a long time, there were big and lofty plans toward economic integration but proved to be mere aspirations.

The ITC boss also said that there was no real concrete plan to drive the economic integration.

“There were many big ideas and many declarations before but as far as I could see, the concrete step to lead Africa to a more integrated market started with AfCFTA.

“There are two things that distinguish it from previous exercises.

“One is the level of concreteness and two is that in the past, a lot of these declarations were signed by trade ministers and country negotiators,” she said.

The executive director noted that the AfCFTA would enhance global competitiveness of African goods.

According to her, if African countries do not integrate, they will remain 55 fragmented economies that could not compete globally.

“There is no shying away from the fact that AfCFTA is all about making African economy competitive.

“After enduring domestic misunderstanding about the agreement, it’s heart-warming that President Buhari signed up, she said.

NAN reports that on May 30, 2019, the agreement establishing the AfCFTA officially entered into force.

President Buhari committed Nigeria to the AfCFTA during July African Union Summit in Niamey, Niger.

With 54 out of the 55 member states of the AU signing the agreement, Africa brought into being the largest trading bloc since the formation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

NAN also reports that following the ratification and entry into force of the AfCFTA, five supporting Operational Instruments were launched during the AU Summit in July.

These instruments are the key tools that will support the launch of the operational phase of the AfCFTA with start of trading scheduled for July 2020.

The instruments are the Rules of Origin; the Tariff concessions; the Continental Online Tool/Mechanism for monitoring, reporting and elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs).

Others are, the Pan-African Payments and Settlement System (PAPSS); and the African Trade Observatory. NAN

Edited by Olawunmi Ashafa/Adeleye Ajayi

Economy

Competition and Consumer Protection Commission meets stakeholders in Lagos

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The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) on Thursday held an engagement forum with stakeholders in Lagos on the implementation of the Federal Competition and Consumer Act.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the Federal Competition and Consumer Act was enacted on Jan. 30, 2019 to eradicate monopolised market hindering economic growth.

The Act affords consumers variety of options available in the enforcement of these rights, while consumers have the liberty to choose the most suitable option to enforce their rights, among other points.

Speaking at the forum, Director-General of FCCPC, Mr Babatunde Irukera, said that a robust competition consumer legislation would deepen fairness among consumers and service providers.

“What this Act does is to regulate the marketplace for fairness among all players both between small and small, big and big, as well as small and big businesses,” he said.

Irukera said that the stakeholders forum was to create a stronger bond between all players so as to develop standards and codes of conduct for associations that would be beneficial to government, economy and all others involved.

“There are clear and statutory roles for collaborating with professional associations on how to regulate the entire market from consumer protection stand point.

“The partnership with the associations will certainly provide an important platform for educating their members about their responsibility, their policy direction and the focus of the commission and it will provide the context to the commission making regulations and adopting policies.

“We need to work together to develop standards and code of conducts for the association that will benefit consumers, associations, providers, producers, government and as well as the economy,” he said.

The D-G suggested that associations should have policies within their associations that would be helpful in the regulations.

He urged the public to contact the commission via telephone as well as its various social media platforms whenever a customer felt cheated or shortchanged.

Mr Wale Smart, Deputy Director, Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA), said that the association would continue to explore ways to partner with FCCPC to improve consumer satisfaction in order to improve the market.

Mr Adediji Ajayi, Registrar, Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers, said that similar regulatory bodies were needed in all sections of the stock market.

Other sectors represented at the forum were the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM), Amnesty International, among others.

NAN reports that other stakeholders present at the interactive session also suggested that FCCPC should organise quarterly engagements for partnership opportunities, robust education and awareness of the activities of FCCPC.

Edited by: Wale Ojetimi

(NAN)

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Economy

Warri safe, good business destination, says Transport coy

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Mrs Oluseyi Oluyede, Managing Director, NigerBenue Transport Company (NBTC) Limited, has described Warri as a good business destination and safe for living, advising those companies that left for insecurity reasons to return.

Oluyede gave the advice on Friday in Warri shortly after her inauguration as the new managing director of the company.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that NBTC renders professional services for ship repair and maintenance, ship building, vessels, Chartered and Marine Logistics among others.

Oluyede said that NBTC had been operating peacefully in Warri for the past 60 years.

“Warri is a safe place for doing business, that is while we are still here for the past 60 years. We want those who have left to know that Warri is safe for business.

“NBTC has always been synonymous with Delta; so we are not going anywhere. Warri is a very significant area in terms of servicing the oil and gas industry.

“NBTC is here and will continue to be here to project the good side of the Niger Delta region,” she said.

Oluyede said that the company would utilise graduates of the Maritime University to address its workforce challenges.

According to her, in the past, we have dearth of manpower to man our vessels and this has resulted to people going out to Philippines and other countries to look for workers.

“With the establishment of the Maritime University, it will help to create the workforce that will be employed to handle these machineries and by implication reduce the unemployment rate,” she said.

The managing director that the company was also focussing on fabrication to expand its tentacle in line with the global changes in the oil and gas industry.

“I have been given a task to make sure this company that is 60 years old continues to exist and get the golden Seal of 100 years.

“My challenge, therefore, is to make sure this company keeps floating, making profits and keep legacy of the company that has been handed over to me,” she said.

Also speaking, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NBTC, Mr Moses Taiga, urged staff of the company to give the managing director maximum support to enable her to excel in her new appointment.

Taiga said that the company has a robust relationship with the host community (Ovwian) in Udu Local Government Area of Delta.

“We have a training programme for youths of this community which has been going on for a long time.

“We are also planning to collaborate with the Delta Government to train more youths,” he said.

Edited by: Olagoke Olatoye

(NAN)

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Economy

Oil prices climb to highest in 3 months on renewed U.S.-China trade deal hopes

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Oil prices extended gains on Friday, scaling three-month highs as the U.S. and China moved closer to a resolution to the 18-month trade war between the world’s two biggest economies that has raised questions about global demand for crude.

Brent futures LCOc1 climbed 47 cents, or 0.7 per cent, to 64.67 dollars a barrel by 0730 GMT, its highest since Sept. 23.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 was up 34 cents or 0.6 per cent, to 59.52 dollars a barrel, the highest since Sept. 16.

“Risk appetite ran wild after Trump signalled that he made a deal with China and that will only be positive for global demand forecasts for crude,” said Edward Moya, Senior Market analyst at OANDA.

A slump in the U.S. dollar against the backdrop of a strong pound also helped to boost commodity prices, said Margaret Yang, a market analyst at CMC Markets.

Mirroring investor optimism, Asian share markets jumped to multi-month highs on Friday after Wall Street surged to record highs on Thursday.

“If we see even further progress with the U.S.-China trade war, we could see global GDP rise by half a percentage point in 2020 and that would do wonders for crude demand forecasts,” said Moya.

While a trade deal that would end uncertainty could provide a shot in the arm for oil demand in the near term, concerns continue to hover about the demand profile amid ample supplies going forward.

“Lingering doubts about demand will cap the upside on prices,” said ANZ Bank in a note on Friday.

In the meantime, the White House has agreed to suspend some tariffs on Chinese goods and reduce others in return for Beijing’s pledge to hike purchases of U.S. farm products in 2020, sources said on Thursday.

However, the White House didn’t release any official statement, raising questions about whether the terms had been agreed by both sides.

Looking further ahead, an International Energy Agency report on Thursday pointed to future pressure on oil prices, predicting a sharp rise in global inventories in spite of an agreement by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies to deepen output cuts.

That contrasts with OPEC’s own research, which forecasts a small deficit in the market next year due to Saudi Arabia’s supply restraint even before the latest cut agreement takes effect.

Elsewhere, Norway’s oil output in November hit a 32-month high at 1.71 million barrels per day, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said on Thursday.

“While the current (U.S.-China) trade deal will most probably limit demand devastation, it might not be enough to counter an oversupplied market in early 2020, hence the possible reason we are not seeing a massive bounce in oil prices now,” said Stephen Innes, a market strategist at AxiTrader.

Edited by: Abdullahi Mohammed/Ijeoma Popoola

(NAN)

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Economy

TCN, states collaborate to expand transmission networks

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The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), says it is collaborating with state governments on Right of Way (RoW) to expand transmission networks.

Mr Usman Mohammed, the Managing Director of TCN said this at the 3rd Quarter 2019 media briefing in Abuja.

Right of Way is the right to make a way over a piece of land usually to and from another piece of land.

He said that the collaboration had become necessary, given the difficulties in securing RoW.

“TCN under the current management devised a strategy for collaborating with these states for the expansion of transmission networks of 25 meters on both sides for 330 Kilo Volt (KV)  lines  and 15 meters on both sides for 132KV lines,’’ he said.

Mohammed said that TCN was collaborating with EdoKatsina, Ogun, LagosKano, Abia, Ondo, Kebbi, Yobe, and Borno states governments.

“Under similar arrangement, TCN entered into agreement with Enugu State Government under which the 132KV substation by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company over four years was energised within two months.

“After the stringing of the five Kilo Metres (KM) Transmission line off the New Haven -Oturkpo I32 KV line,’’ he said.

Mohammed said that TCN was also collaborating with several other states on substation construction for improved electricity supply.

He, however, warned Nigerians constructing buildings on the RoW to desist from the act, adding that they were exposing themselves to danger.

Mohammed said that the TCN was currently undergoing significant transformation, making it a pragmatic and innovative company aimed at resolving major challenges in the sector.

The TCN boss said that its expansion drive started with the use of in-house capacity to install transformers and equipment across the country.

He said that TCN had also completed some slow and non-performing contracts.

“These have resulted in the installation of 67 transformers across Nigeria which had contributed to increase in its capacity.

Edited by: Chidinma Agu/Ese E. Ekama

(NAN)

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Economy

SMEDAM, NIPC harp on matchmaking of SMEs with MNE to boost opportunities

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The Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Ms Yewande Sadiku, says  matchmaking and linkage programmes will enhance opportunities for Small all and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Sadiku made the assertion during a two-day  training/matchmaking/ of SMEs with Large Local Corporates (LLC) and Multinational Enterprises (MNEs).

The event was organised by NIPC and Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) in Lagos on Thursday.

Sadiku, who was represented by an Assistant Director of NIPC,  Mrs Edit Udofia, said that both SMEDAM and NIPC had been engaging different categories of entrepreneurs on  linkage programmes in the last few months.

“The first phase of action plan which was the pilot programme was agreed to focus on agro-industry / agro allied machineries, metal and foundry, plastic and rubber, electrical and industry services, and to be later spread to other sectors.

“After signing Memorandum of Understanding  between NIPC and SMEDAN in January 2019, a Joint Technical Committee was inaugurated for the implementation of the work plan.

and the Lagos event is what is happening here today,” Radda said.

A former Chairman, Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, Osun branch, Mr Ali Alabi, commended the efforts of SMEDAN and NIPC in improving  the capacities of SMEs.

Alabi said that the programme would enable SMEs markets to be known, adding that  it would also improve their productions.

He urged robust networking among  SMEs, MNEs and LLCs to enable them to remain in business.

Alabi said that for small businesses to thrive,  there should be  hand holding from government and big enterprises.

Mr Olarenwaju Oyekanmi, Managing Director of Alagura Farms Ltd., manufacturers of cassava for industries.
hailed SMEDAN and NIPC  for organising the programme.

He, however, decried low turnout of  big manufacturing companies at the event, and called for  fine-tuning to achieve better results.

Edited by: Ijeoma Popoola
(NAN)
(NAN)

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