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African Continental Free Trade’s first commercial deal to take off January 1, 2021

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The African Union has announced that the first commercial deal of the world’s biggest free-trade pact, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA), will be taking off on January 1, 2021, as virtual meetings will be used to complete the outstanding discussions and negotiations.

The free trade agreement, which was signed last year and was supposed to take off on July 1, this year, had been delayed due to the coronavirus disease outbreak that has set back negotiations on the protocol for trade in goods, including tariff concessions.

A source had some months ago reported the delay in the take-off of AFCFTA, a $3.4 trillion economic block, due to the pandemic. Although the agreement was already legally in force, several details need to be ironed out as part of phase one of the process in order to make the July deadline a reality.

The continental body that is leading this trade deal, African Union, in a statement said that the outstanding negotiations will be finalized through a new African Virtual Trade Diplomacy Platform which is developed as a public-private partnership between the African Union Commission and over 20 African multinational companies.

The free trade area, which is the world’s biggest free-trade zone by area, is expected to be fully operational by 2030. It has 55 member countries that have signed on to join including Nigeria, out of which 28 of them have ratified that agreement.

Africa is behind other parts of the world in terms of internal trade, with intra-continental trade accounting for just 15% of the total when compared to what is obtainable in Asia which is 58% and over 70% in Europe.

The AFCFTA agreement is expected to substantially increase trade within the region by lowering or eliminating cross-border tariffs on 90% of goods, thereby facilitating the movement of capital and people, promoting investment and paving the way for a continent-wide customs union.

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Ghanaian govt defends $1million trader’s levy, faults Nigerian borders’ closure

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The Ghanaian government may have imposed the $1million levy on traders in the country, including Nigeria, due to certain steps taken by Nigerian government to protect the former’s interest.

This was revealed in a statement issued by the Ghana’s Ministry of Information on Sunday. The statement was in reaction to claims by Lai Mohammed of closing of Nigerian-owned shops by Ghanaian authorities and seizure of properties owned by the Nigerian High Commission.

This comes as both countries have traded words over the closure of Nigerian-owned shops in Ghana, with the Ghanaian Foreign Minister citing the border closure policy by President Buhari as affecting the revenues of Ghanaian exporters.

Back story: Themoneymetrics earlier reported that the Speaker of the House of Reps, Femi Gbajabiamila stated that the closure of Nigerian shops contravenes ECOWAS trade protocols and called for a decisive solution between both countries.

Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Godfrey Onyeama took matters on by summoning Ghana’s Chargé d’Affaires to Nigeria, Ms. Iva Denoo, to discuss the closure of Nigerian-owned shops in Accra.

Onyeama also met with a  delegation from the Nigerian Traders in Ghana to propose steps towards ensuring that the traders get their shops reopened. The delegation of Nigerian traders was led by Mr. Jasper Emenike, the National President of Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria (PAN) and the organisation’s National Director, Hon. Ruth Ango.

Reacting to the crisis, Ghana’s Foreign Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey stated that Nigeria’s border closure in 2019 has hurt Ghanaians and nearly bankrupted many Ghanaian businesses after their goods were stuck in the Seme Border for months.

August 2019 saw Nigeria close its land borders without notice to community trade. Explanation- ‘To stop smuggling and to protect local industries from imported/smuggled rice, etc.’

“Of course, this decision ended up hurting Ghanaian exporters and brought many of them to their knees financially as trucks were stuck at the Seme Krake border for months,” she said.

Ghanaian’s defence

Citing the accusation that 300, 600 and 250 Nigerian owned shops were closed in 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively, it said, “Upon evidence that some individuals, including Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians had been involved in various forms of trade, without complying with the laws and regulations of Ghana, several engagements and prior advice had been given to encourage compliance.

“Ghana’s Minister for Trade and Industry personally intervened to ensure reopening of the closed shops, pending compliance with Ghana’s laws.”

On seizure of the High Commission building located at No. 10 Barnes road, Accra, the former Gold Coast minister said terms of the lease between Nigeria and a private citizen named Thomas. D. hardy expired 46 years ago without any evidence of renewal by the Nigerian government. The government said it was not involved in the transaction that occurred on 23rd October 1959 and has not seized the property in question.

On the demolition of a building located at No 19/21 Julius Nyerere Street, Accra, the government argued that Nigeria failed to complete the proper documentation after acquiring the property in the year 2000. It stated that Nigeria’s High Commission failed to purchase the Land and Lease Title Certificates.

It added, “The demolition was not carried out by the Ghanaian government but by agents of the Osu Stool. Ghana has decided to return the property to the Nigerian government to preserve relationships between both nations.”

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Nigerian Bottling Company installs high-speed canning line at Ikeja Plant

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The Nigerian Bottling Company Ltd (NBC) has announced the successful installation of a new high-speed canning line at its Ikeja plant. This is in line with its business optimisation and transformation plans.

The Director, Public Affairs and Communications, NBC, Ekuma Eze, noted in a statement seen by Themoneymetrics that the move and the supporting capital investment are in line with the company’s commitment to continue investing in the country.

As a leading consumer packaged goods company, NBC is committed to supporting the Nigerian economy and its people. In addition, as our products continue to cater to a growing range of tastes, we seek to continue to offer our consumers a wider choice of healthier options, premium products and increasingly sustainable packaging.

“This is why we’ve made this significant investment into the installation of this new can manufacturing line at our Ikeja plant,” he said.

With this development, the company’s production capacity for canned products will increase significantly, while production time will be greatly reduced.

This will in turn increase the availability of Coca-Cola can products, and the products will now come in modern sleek cans.

According to him, the new canning line will allow NBC meet up with increasing sales demand, and boost the company’s export capacity.

Eze also disclosed in the statement that the company has “plans in place to install additional bottling lines at the plant in 2021.”

Backstory

As part of the company’s optimization plan, NBC also developed a Greenfield factory in Challawa plant, Kano State to scale up operations. The factory commenced operations in February.

NBC commenced its business transformation and optimisation plan since 2015, and over the last five years, has invested “over 650 million euros in the expansion and extensive upgrade of its manufacturing plants in Asejire, Ikeja, Abuja, Owerri, Challawa, Maiduguri, Port Harcourt and Benin.”

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FG records revenue of N676.41 billion in July

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The Federal Government of Nigeria recorded total revenue of N676.41 billion in July compared to N653.35 billion in June.

Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, revealed that the rise in revenue was a result of higher crude oil sales and increasing tax receipts.

A source reported in July that the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) announced that the FG, States, and Local Governments shared N651.18 billion in Federation account revenues for the month of June, after recording a total revenue of N653.35 billion.

Mr. Idris said that sales tax from oil revenues increased for the month of July, coupled with increases from corporate and income duties. Meanwhile, oil surplus balance for the month of July was $72.41 million as at August 19.

Note that crude oil accounts for two-thirds of Nigeria’s revenue. However, the government has recently been making efforts to diversity its revenue streams, including by way of taxation. For instance, increased VAT also contributed to the increase in July’s revenue because the government recently increased VAT to 7.5% in February.

Crude Oil reached record lows in April due to falling demand caused by the pandemic and an oil trade war between the Saudis and Russia. OPEC+ agreed to daily cuts of 9.6 million barrels a day, which has seen oil rise to $44 per barrel. OPEC plans to continue the production cuts till September, especially for countries like Nigeria and Iraq who have not quite been compliant.

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