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Nigeria, Benin Republic Collaborate to Boost Trade, Economic Relations

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

Nigeria has strengthened its diplomatic and economic relations with the Republic of Benin.

This was disclosed in a postmortem meeting by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, after the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr.

Wale Edun, who just returned from leading Nigeria’s delegation to the Benin Republic for a high-level meeting.

In a statement by the Head of Press and Public Relations in the Finance Ministry, Mrs Helen Oby Chukwu on Monday,

President Patrice Talon of Benin Republic, granted a brief audience to the Nigerian delegation where he urged the Ministers to give the bilateral meeting the desired impetus already established by himself and his Nigerian counterpart, President Ahmed Bola Tinubu.

During the High-Level Meeting, the Beninise government made presentations on enhancing the bilateral trade between Nigeria and the Benin Republic and their position regarding implementing measures in other areas relating to trade harmonization.

Some of the key issues in the proposal were the strategies for strengthening the Customs Union between the two countries, establishing a relationship of trust through collaboration, joint training, and personnel exchanges between the respective Central Banks, and, most importantly, deepening the legal framework applicable to facilitate debt recovery.

To achieve these frameworks, the Beninese Side proposed the creation of a permanent joint technical committee with extended powers that will seek the implementation of ministerial consultations on the enforcement of the bilateral agreement, political anchoring and establishment of a clear and transparent governance structure among other channels of implementation.

After the presentation, the host Minister of Finance and the Economy, Mr. Romuald Wadagni, reiterated the significance of embodying the firm resolve of the two countries’ Presidents in ensuring the strengthening of trade relations.

He added that setting up a technical committee would serve as a one-stop shop for handling joint issues related to Nigeria and the Republic of Benin.

In his response, Mr. Edun appreciated the Beninese Government for the audience and hosting of the meeting. He equally appreciated President Patrice Talon’s moral support and enthusiasm and added that the political will shown so far was beyond question.

He further underscored that the task at hand was to seek efficient means of implementing the ideas of the leaders of both countries. The Minister, therefore, proposed that the two Finance Ministers of Nigeria and Benin head the proposed permanent committee.

The Nigerian delegation consisted of the Charge d’ Affaires a.i, Nigerian Embassy in Cotonou, Ambassador Saidu N. Tiggi, and the Comptroller of Customs, Seme Command. On the Beninese Side were the host Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Shegun Adjadi Bakari, the Minister of Trade and Commerce, Ms. Assouman Shadiya, the Minister of Justice and Legislation, and the Beninese Director General of Customs.

Nigeria continues to strengthen its cultural, trade, and economic relations with the Republic of Benin, especially in customs border patrols, financial integration of payment systems between the two countries and the harmonization of regulations along the borders.

Economy

Nigeria’s Inflation Hit 33.20% in March, says NBS

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The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) says Nigeria’s headline inflation rate increased to 33.20 per cent in March 2024.
The NBS said this in its Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Inflation Report for March, which was released in Abuja on Monday.
According to the report, the figure is 1.50 per cent points higher compared to the 31.

70 per cent recorded in February 2024.

It said on a year-on-year basis, the headline inflation rate in March 2024 was 11.
16 per cent higher than the rate recorded in March 2023 at 22.04 per cent.
In addition, the report said, on month-on-month basis, the headline inflation rate in March 2024 was 3.02 per cent, which was 0.10 per cent lower than the rate recorded in February 2024 at 3.
12 per cent.
“This means that in March 2024, the rate of increase in the average price level is less than the rate of increase in the average price level in February 2024.”
The report attributed the increase in the headline index for March 2024 on a year-on-year basis and month-on-month basis to increase in some goods and services at the divisional level.
It said these increases were observed in food and non-alcoholic beverages, housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuel, clothing and footwear, and transport.
Others, it said, were furnishings, household equipment and maintenance, education, health, miscellaneous goods and services, restaurants and hotels, alcoholic beverage, tobacco and kola, recreation and culture, and communication.
It said the percentage change in the average CPI for the 12 months ending March 2024 over the average of the CPI for the previous corresponding 12-month period was 27.13 per cent.
“This indicates a 6.76 per cent increase compared to 20.37 per cent recorded in March 2023”, it said.
The report said the food inflation rate in March 2024 increased to 40.01 per cent on a year-on-year basis, which was 15.56 per cent higher compared to the rate recorded in March 2023 at 24.45 per cent.
“The rise in food inflation on a year-on-year basis is caused by increases in prices of Garri, Millet, Akpu (uncooked fermented, which are under bread and cereals class), Yam Tuber, and Water Yam.
“Others are Dried Fish Sadine, Mudfish Dried, Palm Oil, Vegetable Oil, Beef Feet, Beef Head, Liver, Coconut, Water Melon, Lipton Tea, Bournvita, and Milo”, NBS said.
It said on a month-on-month basis, the food inflation rate in March was 3.62 per cent, which was a 0.17 per cent decrease compared to the rate recorded in February 2024 at 3.79 per cent.
“The fall in food inflation on a month-on-month basis was caused by a decrease in the average prices of Guinea corn flour, Plantain Flour etc (under Bread and Cereals class); Yam, Irish Potato, and CocoYam.
“Others are Titus fish, Mudfish Dried, Lipton, Bournvita, and Ovaltine”, it said.
The report said that “all items less farm produce and energy’’ or core inflation, which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce and energy, stood at 25.90 per cent in March on a year-on-year basis.
“This increased by 6.26 per cent compared to 19.63 per cent recorded in March 2023.’’
“The exclusion of the PMS is due to the deregulation of the commodity by removal of subsidy.”
It said the highest increases were recorded in prices of bus journey within the city, actual and imputed rentals for housing, consultation fee of a medical doctor, etc.
The NBS said on a month-on-month basis, the core inflation rate was 2.54 per cent in March 2024.
“This indicates a 0.37 per cent increase compared to what was recorded in February 2024 at 2.17 per cent.”
“The average 12-month annual inflation rate was 22.26 per cent for the 12 months ending March 2024, this was 5.04 per cent points higher than the 17.22 per cent recorded in March 2023”, it said.
The report said on a year-on-year basis in March 2024, the urban inflation rate was 35.18 per cent, 12.11 per cent higher compared to the 23.07 per cent recorded in March 2023.
The report said on a year-on-year basis in March 2024, the rural inflation rate was 31.45 per cent, which was 10.37 per cent higher compared to the 21.09 per cent recorded in March 2023.
“On a month-on-month basis, the rural inflation rate was 2.87 per cent, which decreased by 0.20 per cent compared to February 2024 at 3.07 per cent’’, it said.
On states’ profile analysis, the report showed that in March, all items inflation rate on a year-on-year basis was highest in Kogi at 39.97 per cent, followed by Bauchi at 38.34 per cent, and Kwara at 38.10 per cent.
It, however, said the slowest rise in headline inflation on a year-on-year basis was recorded in Borno at 25.78 per cent, followed by Benue and Taraba at 28.12 per cent, and Katsina at 28.32 per cent.
The report, however, said in March 2024, all items inflation rate on a month-on-month basis was highest in Zamfara at 3.90 per cent, followed by Abia at 3.89 per cent, and Ondo at 3.75 per cent.
“Borno at 1.46 per cent, followed by Yobe at 1.84 per cent and Adamawa at 1.85 per cent recorded the slowest rise in month-on-month inflation”, NBS said.
The report said on a year-on-year basis, food inflation was highest in Kogi at 48.46 per cent, followed by Kwara at 46.18 per cent, and Akwa Ibom at 45.18 per cent.
“Nasarawa at 33.76 per cent, followed by Borno at 34.28 per cent and Bauchi at 34.38 per cent recorded the slowest rise in food inflation on a year-on-year basis’’, it said.
The report, however, said on a month-on-month basis, food inflation was highest in Abia at 5.17 per cent, followed by Cross River at 5.14 per cent, and Bayelsa at 4.75 per cent.
“Cross River stood at 1.59 per cent, followed by Yobe at 2.08 per cent and Adamawa at 2.12 per cent, recorded the slowest rise in inflation on a month-on-month basis”, it said. (NAN)

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Economy

Naira Makes Huge Recovery, Gains 7.2% Against Dollar

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The Naira on Friday experienced huge appreciation at the official market, trading at N1,142.38 to the dollar.

Data from the official trading platform of the FMDQ Exchange, a platform that oversees the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEM), revealed that the Naira gained N88.

23.

This represents a 7.16 per cent gain when compared to the previous trading date on Monday, April 8, exchanging at N1,230.

61 to a dollar before the Sallah holiday.

The total daily turnover increased to $281.34 million on Friday up from $125.55 million recorded on Monday.

Meanwhile, at the Investor’s and Exporter’s (I&E) window, the Naira traded between N1,265 and N1,100 against the dollar.

Economic experts have continued to praise both fiscal and monetary policies of President Bola Tinubu’s administration responsible for the steady Naira appreciation.

The CBN, during its policy meetings held in February and March, implemented a total of 600 basis points in interest rate increases.

This helped tackle dollar scarcity, reduced volatility, and decreased reliance on parallel markets. (NAN)

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Business News

Afreximbank Closes $282 million India-focused Club Deal

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja 

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has announced the successful completion of a first-of-its-kind India-focussed club deal for US$282.00 million.

Initiated for the exclusive participation of Indian lenders, and arranged by Bank of Africa UK PLC, the primary syndicated club deal saw participation from Indian lenders through their overseas branches and subsidiaries in the Dubai International Financial Centre in the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Mauritius.

The facility, which was backed by six participating banks and financial institutions, including five that joined as first-time lenders to Afreximbank, helping the Bank achieve its objective of diversifying its funding sources, carries a three-year tenor.

At a commemorative event held in Dubai, U.A.E., to mark the conclusion of the deal, Haytham ElMaayergi, Executive Vice President at Afreximbank, said that the conclusion of the initiative represented a major milestone for the Bank as it sought to fulfil the key objectives of its funding programme.

Highlighting the importance of investing in, and for, Africa, Mr. ElMaayergi said: “this facility will help Afreximbank to continue to play a major role in the development of intra-African trade and trade between Africa and the rest of the world, particularly with India. 

It is a testament to the rapid growth in Africa’s economic relationship with India and is evidence of Afreximbank’s growing ability to harness resources into Africa and to fund trade finance related investments that would have a positive impact on trade between Africa and India.”

Chandi Mwenebungu, Director and Group Treasurer of Afreximbank, reviewing the Bank’s vision for Africa, said that its funding objectives included achieving the diversification of its liability book by geography, investor type and tenor.

Also addressing guests at the event were Said Adren, CEO of Bank of Africa UK PLC, who thanked the lenders for their participation, and Zineb Tamtaoui, General Manager of Bank of Africa, Dubai Branch, who expressed appreciation for the opportunity to put together “a landmark deal that would be a stepping stone to many India-focused club deals going forward.”

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