The Association of Micro Entrepreneurs of Nigeria (AMEN) has appealed to the Federal Government to urgently resolve issues around the closure of the country’s land borders, in order to promote inclusive economic growth.
The association made the plea through its President, Mr Saviour Iche, at a media briefing in Lagos on Friday on the effects of border closure on local businesses and manufacturers.
According to Iche, the alternative use of seaports and airline for export freight as suggested by the government was beyond the financial capacity of most MSMEs.
“We wish that we can explore the freight option suggested by government, but most of us have not grown financially to that stage, that is why we are appealing to government to help us.
“Over 90 percent of small manufacturers and businesses with large customer base outside Nigeria are as a result of the border closure gradually going out of business because they cannot export their products.
“The services sector has also not been spared by the policy as a movement of personnel and work materials have come under heavy restrictions,” Iche said.
Speaking further, Ichie revealled that the situation has affected the income of businesses, hindered them from meeting financial obligations to creditors, family members and even, revenue to the government.
He further noted that most of the manufacturers and MSMEs embraced export to promote their products and expand their markets due to their willingness to support government’s efforts to diversify the economy and boost non-oil export revenues.
Iche, who said the closure of the borders occurred weeks after Nigeria signed onto the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), insisted government action could send a wrong signal to other countries about Nigeria’s sincerity to Africa’s economic integration.
Acknowledging the urgent need to curb smuggling activities in the country’s land border, Ichie insisted that the policy should be situated in the larger context of the overall economy.
The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) ended this week’s trading with market capitalisation shedding N74.9 billion. The bourse All Share Index decreased by 0.38% on a week to date basis to close at 26,348.73 basis points.
A total of 2 billion shares worth N16.1 billion exchanged hands in 13,508 deals during this week’s trading sessions on the floor of the NSE.
18 equities appreciated in value during the week, lower than 19 in the previous week. 33 equities depreciated in value, higher than 23 equities in the previous week. While 115 equities remained unchanged, lower than 124 equities from las week.
Top 10 gainers
Cornerstone Insurance led the top 10 gainers for this week with a 18.75% gain to close at N0.38. The stock opened at N0.32.
Consolidated Hallmark Insurance opened this week at N0.33, gaining 12.12% to close at N0.37. Trans-national Express followed with a 9.09% gain. The stock opened at N0.77 and closed at N0.84.
Sterling Bank gained 7.78%, opening at N1.80 and closed at N1.94. A.G. Leventis opened at N0.26 and closed at N0.28, gaining 7.69%.
UAC Properties gained 7%. The stock opened at N1 and closed at N1.07. Cutix gained 6.87%. The stock opened at N1.31 and closed at N1.40.
Courtville Business Solutions opened at N0.20 and closed at N0.21, gaining 5%. Union Diagnostic and Clinical Services gained 4.55%, opening at N0.22 and closed at N0.23.
Continental Reinsurance rounds up the top 10 weekly gainers with a 3.46% gain to close at N2.39. The stock opened at N2.31.
Top 10 losers
On the flipside, Guinness Nigeria was the biggest loser in this week’s trading sessions. The stock opened at N29.35 and closed at N23.85, losing 18.74%. This largely due to its unimpressive results released yesterday.
Nem Insurance opened at N2.30 and closed at N2, losing 13.04%. Custodian Investment opened at N6.20 and closed at N5.45, losing 12.10%.
Jaiz Bank lost 10% to close at N0.45. The stock opened the week at N0.50. C & I Leasing lost 9.59%. The stock opened at N7.30 and closed at N6.60.
Eterna opened at N3.15 and closed at N2.85, losing 9.52%. GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Nigeria lost 9.38%. The stock opened at N6.40 and closed at N5.80.
Ikeja Hotel opened at N1.18 and closed at N1.07, losing 9.32%. Wapic Insurance closed at N0.32, losing 8.57%. The stock opened at N0.35.
Lasaco Assurance rounds up the top 10 losers this week with a 7.14% loss to close at N0.26. The stock opened at N0.28.
U.S. and Chinese officials are "close to finalising" some parts of a trade agreement after high-level telephone discussions on Friday, the U.S. Trade Representative's office and China's Commerce Ministry said, with talks to continue.
The USTR provided no details on the areas of progress.
"They made headway on specific issues and the two sides are close to finalising some sections of the agreement. Discussions will go on continuously at the deputy level, and the principals will have another call in the near future," a statement said.
Washington and Beijing are working to agree on the text for a "Phase 1" trade agreement announced by U.S. President Donald Trump on Oct. 11. Trump has said he hopes to sign the deal with China's President Xi Jinping next month at a summit in Chile.
In a separate statement posted on China's Ministry of Commerce website on Saturday morning, Beijing confirmed "technical consultations" on some parts of a trade agreement were basically completed.
Agricultural products are a major area of discussion.
China's Commerce Ministry said both sides confirmed the United States will import Chinese-made cooked poultry and catfish products, while China will lift a ban on U.S. poultry.
Beijing wants the United States to cancel some existing U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports, people briefed on the Friday call told Reuters, in return for pledging to step up its purchases of U.S. commodities like soybeans.
The United States wants Beijing to commit to buying these products at a specific time and price, while Chinese buyers would like the discretion to buy based on market conditions.
The world's two largest economies are trying to calm a nearly 16-month trade war that is roiling financial markets, disrupting supply chains and slowing global economic growth.
"They want to make a deal very badly," Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday. "They're going to be buying much more farm products than anybody thought possible."
Trump agreed earlier this month to cancel an Oct. 15 increase in tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods as part of a tentative agreement on agricultural purchases, increased access to China's financial services markets, improved protections for intellectual property rights and a currency pact.
White House advisers are hoping to cement a binding, enforceable agreement with Beijing, including a pledge not to force U.S. companies to transfer technology to Chinese companies to do business there.
TARIFFS TAKE THE LEAD
Beijing was expected to ask Washington during Friday's call to drop its plan to impose tariffs on $156 billion worth of Chinese goods, including cell phones, laptop computers and toys, on Dec. 15, two U.S.-based sources told Reuters.
Beijing is also seeking removal of 15% tariffs imposed on Sept. 1 on about $125 billion of Chinese goods, one of the sources said. Trump imposed the tariffs in August after a failed round of talks. "The Chinese want to get back to tariffs on just the original $250 billion in goods," the source said.
U.S. farmers have been struggling since the trade war started.
In the decade before Trump took office, China’s purchases of U.S. agriculture and related products tripled, reaching $25.2 billion in 2016. But they dropped to $13.2 billion in 2018, after the U.S. put tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars
of Chinese goods. (Graphic: U.S. farm exports to China dry up in trade warhttps://tmsnrt.rs/343C4kJ
Derek Scissors, a resident scholar and China expert at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, said the original goal of the early October talks was to finalise a text on intellectual property, agriculture and market access to pave the way for a postponement of the Dec. 15 tariffs.
Phase One will not cover U.S. allegations of Chinese hacking into U.S. companies and government agencies, state subsidies, Beijing's alleged dumping of lower-priced products on global markets or China’s involvement in the fentanyl market, one person briefed on the negotiations said.
An intellectual property rights chapter in the agreement largely deals with copyright and trademark issues and pledges to curb technology transfers that Beijing has already put into a new investment law, people familiar with the discussions said.
A SCALED DOWN DEAL
If an agreement on China buying U.S. agricultural products can be sealed, Beijing in return would exempt some U.S. agricultural products from tariffs, including soybeans, wheat and corn, a China-based source told Reuters.
But the ultimate amounts of China's purchases are uncertain. Trump has touted purchases of $40 billion to $50 billion annually - far above China's 2017 purchases of $19.5 billion as measured by the American Farm Bureau.
One of the sources briefed on the talks said China's offer would start at around $20 billion in annual purchases, largely restoring the pre-trade-war status quo, but this could rise over time. Purchases also would depend on market conditions and pricing.
USTR head Robert Lighthizer has emphasized China's agreement to remove some restrictions on U.S. genetically modified crops and other food safety barriers, which U.S. sources say could pave the way for much higher U.S. farm exports to China.
Friday's high-level call came a day after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence railed against China's trade practices and what he termed construction of a "surveillance state" in a major policy speech. But Pence left the door open to a trade deal with China, saying Trump wanted a "constructive" relationship with Beijing.
While the U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods have brought Beijing to the negotiating table to address U.S. grievances over trade and intellectual property practices, they have not sparked significant change in China's state-led economic model.
Some China trade experts said that a completion of a Phase 1 deal could leave little incentive for China to negotiate further, especially with a U.S. election in 2020.
"U.S.-China talks change very quickly from hot to cold but, the longer it takes to nail down the easy Phase 1, the harder it is to imagine a Phase 2 breakthrough," said Scissors.
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday described Western sanctions as a “cancer” sapping the economy, and his supporters denounced the measures during marches held around the southern African country.
Mnangagwa’s opponents stayed away from the demonstrations, saying they were a distraction from the president’s mishandling of the economy, which is grappling with 18-hour daily power cuts and shortages of foreign exchange, fuel and medicines.
Mnangagwa has so far failed to unify the country since taking over from the late Robert Mugabe, who was ousted in a coup in 2017. Hopes of a swift recovery have faded as the economy struggles to exit its deepest crisis in a decade.
Mnangagwa, like Mugabe, blames the sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union since 2001 for the economic ills and sees them as a tool to remove the ruling ZANU-PF party from power.
“Every part and sector of our economy has been affected by these sanctions like a cancer,” Mnangagwa told a few thousand supporters inside a 60,000-seater national stadium. “Enough is enough, remove them. Remove these sanctions now!”
Earlier, 7,000 government supporters led by Mnangagwa’s wife Auxillia and bussed from across Zimbabwe marched for 5 km to the national stadium in the capital Harare.
Singing and dancing, they waved placards inscribed “No sanctions, no discrimination, sanctions new version of slavery,” and “Enough is enough, remove sanctions now.”
“We have no jobs because of the sanctions. America wants to remove ZANU-PF from power through sanctions but we will defend the party and our president,” said 32-year-old Martin Mafusire.
Similar marches were held throughout Zimbabwe after Mnangagwa declared Friday a public holiday.
The EU and United States imposed financial and travel bans on ZANU-PF and top military figures for alleged human rights abuses and electoral fraud. The government says the measures are punishment for its seizures of white-owned farms.
ZANU-PF supporters condemn the sanctions while the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change says they are not the cause of the country’s economic crisis.
The regional Southern African Development Community has rallied behind Zimbabwe’s call for an end to sanctions.
While the government ran documentaries and articles in the official press criticising sanctions, the U.S. and EU embassies took to social media to rebut the official narrative.
U.S. Ambassador Brian Nichols wrote an article in a private newspaper on Thursday saying “the greatest sanctions on Zimbabwe are the limitations that the country places on itself”.
He said the United States remained the biggest donor to Zimbabwe but corruption and lack of reform had dragged down the economy.
Harare says the U.S. sanctions have been the most devastating. These bar U.S. officials at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank from voting for debt relief or fresh lending for Zimbabwe.
In March, President Donald Trump extended by one year sanctions against 141 entities and individuals in Zimbabwe, including Mnangagwa.
The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has won the general election after securing 29 national assembly seats, representing 51% of the vote, the chief justice announced on Friday.
Botswana voted on Wednesday to elect 57 national assembly and 490 local government representatives, with the candidate of the winning party set to become president.
“Although vote counting is still ongoing, the numbers of parliament seats attained so far by the BDP obliges me to declare Mokgweetsi Masisi as the elected president of Botswana,” said Chief Justice Terrence Rannowane.
The main opposition, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), secured 13 seats while the Botswana Patriotic Front won three and the Alliance for Progressive only one, with 73% of the voting districts counted so far.
The BDP will now have to move swiftly to transform the economy. Since independence from Britain in 1966 the Botswana economy has grown at 8% a year to become one of Africa’s most successful, bit it is now at risk of coming unstuck because of over-reliance on a single commodity - diamonds.
Masisi, 58, is standing on his record on tackling corruption, such as making the declaration of assets obligatory for public sector officials. He has also overseen a sharp reduction in bureaucracy for small businesses.
“We are going to ... tackle the challenges the country is facing ... improving the value chain of our national products, whether it’s in tourism or minerals,” Masisi said after voting on Wednesday in his home village of Moshupa.
“This will help us achieve our goal of migrating towards a high-income country.”