Barely two weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has stated that the nation has taken a great risk by signing the continental trade treaty, as struggling firms may fold up.
The Director-General of NECA, Mr. Timothy Olawale, reportedly disclosed this while speaking during a press briefing on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa, in Abuja, after the leadership of the association met with President Muhammadu Buhari.
The visit to the Presidency came against the heels of the Association’s 62nd Annual General Meeting held in Lagos on Tuesday, where NECA lamented that some government agencies were frustrating the ease of doing business in Nigeria through contradictory regulations.
The signing of AfCFTA: On Sunday, July 8, 2019, President Buhari signed AfCFTA, joining over 50 other African countries in ratifying what is being considered as the largest free trade agreement in any continent in the world.
- As widely reported, the trade treaty is expected to encourage trade relations in Africa by removing tariffs for over 90% of goods traded between member countries.
- However, concerns have been raised that Nigerian manufacturers will be exposed to dangers, following AfCFTA signing. Meanwhile, Nairametrics has provided a detailed analysis of the trade agreement’s cost and benefits, as touching businesses in Nigeria and the economy.
Some issues raised: The Director-General of NECA noted that while AfCTA comes with some inherent benefits, the potential damage on the economy may be too costly. According to Mr. Olawale, Nigeria’s economy is too fragile for the treaty.
“Those issues border on those variables that will ensure the competitiveness of Nigerian businesses and industry. We don’t want a situation where our businesses are not competitive due to the disadvantaged environment they operate.
“Of course, we are all familiar with the disadvantaged environment with regards to the issue of infrastructure, among which is power and the issue of the road network – that is, transportation for goods and services and accessibility to the different business environments.”
On Nigeria’s manufacturing sector, the NECA Director stated that AfCFTA signing would formally turn Nigeria into a dumping ground, if not properly handled, and this may affect struggling firms to eventually fold up. He cited the textile industry as an example.
“What we are saying is that if all these issues are not addressed properly, to make our business competitive, definitely we are going to be at the receiving end, to the extent that our nation will become a dumping ground. Some of the factories that are even struggling presently may end up folding up.
“Of course, we know the history of the textile sector and that can be repeated in any other sector and we don’t want us to get to that extent. That is why we are saying the government should put mechanisms in place to address these issues so that we can be competitive and take our rightful place by maximising the benefits of the AfCFTA.”
The Bottom line: It should be noted that NECA was one of the associations consulted by the Federal Government before President Buhari arrived at the decision to sign AfCFTA. What this implies is that the Federal Government is aware of the costs of the continental trade agreement.
Hence, just like NACA as rightly noted, all hands must be on deck, to ensure that the Nigerian economy is not trapped in the negative spillovers of signing AfCFTA.
Meristem features Nike Okundaye in Campaign titled “The Journey”, highlights the importance for partners
Meristem taps into Okundaye’s creative energy, highlighting the shared story of growth and collaboration.
It has been a long journey for financial services provider, Meristem Nigeria, having started out as a boutique stockbroking firm over 16 years ago and morphing into a capital market conglomerate offering an array of diversified service and product offerings. The tale is similar for the art and culture doyen, Nike Okundaye-Davies whose humble beginning in traditional weaving and dying practice annealed her to the art world and art lovers.
At a graceful age of 70, she has achieved over 102 solo art exhibitions, 36 group art exhibitions, a permanent display of two of her works in the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, a Harvard recognition and many other global acclaims. With four (4) art galleries spread across the country, and the Lagos center being the biggest art gallery in West Africa, she once told a Forbes journalist that her dreams are driven by careful financial planning as she reinvests at least two-thirds of her income in her business and art centers.
Meristem taps into her creative energy in this campaign, highlighting the shared story of growth and collaboration for both institutions, and the need to onboard the right partners to achieve long term financial goals and investment security.
Meristem, a capital market conglomerate and diversified financial services provider offering stockbroking, wealth management, asset management, trustee services and financial advisory. Over the past 16 years, Meristem has been consistent in value creation and innovation within the capital market space. The Nigerian stock exchange awarded Meristem as the best digital broker of the year. In 2018 also, Meristem became the first Nigerian asset management firm to attain compliance with the Global Investment Performance Standards (GIPS) by the CFA Institute. In 2017, Meristem handled the single largest trade in the history of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Shell considers relocating its headquarters to the UK
Royal Dutch Shell has consistently pushed for the Dutch Government to stop taxes on dividends.
Oil and gas giant, the Royal Dutch Shell, is considering moving its corporate headquarters from The Netherlands to Britain. This could be a move against the implementation of dividend tax in The Netherlands.
The move was disclosed by the oil company’s Chief Executive Officer, Ben Van Beurden, during an interview with a Dutch newspaper on Saturday, July 4, 2020. According to him, the oil giant is not ruling out relocating its headquarters from the Netherlands to Britain. He said:
“You always need to keep thinking. Nothing is permanent and of course we will look at the business climate. But moving your headquarters is not a trivial measure. You cannot think too lightly about that.”
Further confirming the Chief Executive Officer’s comment, a Shell spokesman told Reuters that the oil giant is looking at ways to simplify its dual structure, as it had been doing for many years.
Royal Dutch Shell has consistently pushed for the Dutch Government to stop the tax on dividend paid to shareholders, as this makes financing dividend, share buy-backs and acquisition a lot more difficult.
An earlier attempt by the Dutch Government to stop the dividend tax as an incentive to convince Unilever to unify its dual structure in Rotterdam, was met with an outcry by the public, who see that as a gift to rich foreigners.
It can be recalled that Shell had announced a few days ago that it might likely write down between $15 billion-$22 billion in post impairment charges for the second quarter of 2020. The impairment, which is its largest since the merger with Shell Transport and Trading Company Ltd in 2005, shows the huge adverse impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on the oil giant’s businesses.
Also, in a move that shocked investors, Shell for the first time since the Second World War, cut down the dividend that it paid to its shareholders by two-thirds due to the negative impact of the pandemic. The decision came as a surprise to many including shareholders of the oil company which is by far the biggest payer of dividend in the FTSE 100.
Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi tests positive for COVID-19
Umahi has directed those who worked in the budget review for 2020 to immediately test for COVID-19.
The Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi has tested positive for COVID-19, reported on Saturday afternoon.
Umahi’s Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Francis Nwaze, confirmed the news and also revealed that some associates of the governor also tested positive.
He also said that the Governor is not showing any symptoms of the disease, though he has isolated himself in line with the NCDC protocols.
“The governor has directed his Deputy, Dr Kelechi, to coordinate the state’s fight against the disease and appealed to the citizens to take the NCDC protocols seriously.
“He will currently be working from ‘home’ and will be conducting all meetings virtually,” Nwaze added.
David Umahi becomes the sixth Nigerian governor to test positive for the disease, Governors of Kaduna, El- Rufai, Bauchi, Bala Mohammed and Oyo, Seyi Makinde have fully recovered while the recent cases have been the Governors of Ondo, Rotimi Akeredolu and Delta, Ifeanyi Okowa.
On Thursday, Governor Umahi announced that the state’s Executive Council was finalizing the budget review required by World Bank and said “most us broke down and are being treated of malaria.”
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He also directed those who worked in the budget review for 2020 to immediately test for COVID-19 and admitted he is expecting a second test result after he initially tested negative in March.