The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry has stated various steps Nigeria can take to fully take advantage of the opportunities offered by the World Trade Organisation under the leadership of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
In a statement on Monday, the LCCI felicitated with Nigeria on the appointment of Okonjo-Iweala as the Director-General of World Trade Organization.
The Director-General, LCCI, Dr Muda Yusuf, said, “While the emergence of Dr Okonjo-Iweala as the new WTO Director-General is very gratifying and calls for celebration, there is a need to manage expectations around the outcomes for the Nigerian economy, given the numerous productivity and competitiveness issues the country is grappling with.
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“Ultimately, these are the factors that would determine the benefits that would accrue to the economy from global trade.”
According to him, Nigeria needs to build capacity for international competitiveness of its products and services so as to benefit from the WTO.
He said, “Also imperative is the need to address trade facilitation issues, especially around port processes, ports infrastructures, international trade documentation, foreign exchange policies, trade policies and industrial policies. We need to promote local value addition and backward integration to strengthen competitiveness of our domestic industries.
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“We must undertake reforms of our tariff policy in accordance with the principles of comparative advantage, which would enable the country to optimise opportunities in the global trade arena and enhance the citizens’ welfare.”
According to Yusuf, it is critical to develop an African Continental Free Trade Area strategy that would enable the country to leverage trade opportunities both continentally and globally.
“There is a need to improve on our strategy in managing the coronavirus pandemic ranging from ensuring compliance to safety protocols to vaccine procurement and distribution,” he said.
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The LCCI DG said Okonjo-Iweala’s emergence came at a time when the global trading system was faced with numerous challenges, including supply chain disruptions precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic, rising protectionism and unilateralism, growing economic nationalism, and imposition of trade restrictions covering substantial amount of international trade, among others.
“Africa has peculiar challenges in the global trade arena. The continent is deeply integrated into the global supply chain and this underscores the low participation level of African economies in international trade,” he said.
According to him, it is very pertinent for African economies to build capacity within the continent in order to take advantage of the opportunities in global trade.
Airtel signs $500m loan with Bank of America, others
Airtel Africa has announced the signing of a new $500m loan facility with a group of relationship banks to partially refinance the group’s €750m Euro-denominated bond (c.$880m) due May 20, 2021.
In a statement signed on Wednesday, by its Group Company Secretary, Simon O’Hara, the banks that participated in the facility include, Bank of America, BNP Paribas, Citibank, HSBC, J.P. Morgan, Standard Chartered Bank, and two Indian relationship banks, Axis Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank.
O’Hara said the new committed facility consisted of a combination of a revolving credit facility and term loans with tenor of up to four years.
He stated that the balance of the Euro-denominated bond would be repaid with existing group cash to reduce gross debt and associated interest costs.
“The new loan facility further strengthens the core liquidity of the group,” the group said in the statement.
The telecommunication company also said it had prepayment flexibilities that would allow the group to optimize the efficiency of its capital structure with the free cash flows and cash receipts anticipated over the next 12 months, following the recent announcements related to tower sales and mobile money minority investments.
Uber, Bolt drivers lament poor pay, threaten strike Monday
Some Uber and Bolt drivers in Lagos on Saturday asked the e-hailing companies to immediately increase fares being charged by the operators.
The e-cab operators, under the aegis of Professional E-hailing Drivers and Private Owners Association, threatened to commence a strike on Monday if their demands were not met.
The National President of PEDPA, Mr Idris Shonuga, at a press conference in Lagos, called for the immediate upward review of e-cab fares to reflect the current economic situation in the country.
According to Shonuga, over 95 per cent of e-hailing transactions are consummated through Uber and Bolt platforms, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
He said that the companies had refused to review its pricing despite unprecedented increases in the prices of fuel, vehicle spare parts, food items and other essential commodities in the country.
Shonuga said, “In a quest to work harmoniously at resolving some issues, the association wrote several letters to the companies but they were not attended to, showing a nonchalant attitude towards our plight. Your companies have failed, refused and neglected to honour our request for a meeting to discuss issues beneficial to all e-hailing drivers in Nigeria.
“And to fashion a harmonious relationship that will benefit, dignify and improve the standard of living of e-hailing drivers, private car owners and the general standard of e-hailing business in the country.
“Instead of fixing a new and reasonable fare in line with inflation, the companies have recklessly continued to maintain the low fare, thereby, impoverishing hard working young Nigerians who are diligently and lawfully trying to make a decent living.
The e-cab operators also demanded adequate welfare packages for drivers and compensation to the families of those that lost their lives or permanently disabled in the line of duty. The association said that more than 15 drivers had lost their lives, while some had been permanently disabled in accidents while working.
“More than 20 others have also lost their lives to kidnapping or killed by ritualists without any compensation from the operators, ‘’the association said.
Shonuga said that the association was considering taking legal action to seek remedies against the e-hailing companies if their demands were not met.
BoI Records N35.5bn Profit As Assets reaches N1.86trn
The Bank of Industry – BoI has said it recorded a profit after tax of N35.54 billion for the financial year ended Dec. 31, 2020, as its total assets hit N1.86 trillion.
The Managing director, BoI, Mr Olukayode Pitan, in a statement, yesterday, said that the performance demonstrates resilience and strength and also indicates synergy with the various interventions developed by both the federal government, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as well as other strategic partners, despite the significant challenges in the operating environment on account of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The group’s total assets grew from 1.04 trillion to 1.86 trillion between 2019 and 2020, driven by the successful debt syndication of €1 billion and $1 billion that were concluded in March and December 2020 respectively.
The group’s total equity increased by 14.8% from 293.08 in the previous year to 336.48 billion in 2020. Loans and advances grew marginally in 2020 by 1.3% to 749.84 bn from the 2019 position, a reflection of the adverse impact of the challenging operating environment on growth of new loans.
Profit before tax fell by 9.6% from 39.34 billion in 2019 to 35.54 billion, attributable to the economic slowdown in the year as well as the various interventions and support initiated by the bank for its customers were responsible for this result.
Pitan explained that the bank, in line with CBN directive, also reviewed and restructured all its managed projects under the CBN intervention programme with interest rate reduction from 9% to 5% per annum for a period of one year and moratorium extension of 3 months (with a possible extension up to 12 months).
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