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Trade ministry committed to promoting free trade zones- Official

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Trade Zone
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The Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) has restated its commitment to support activities that would harness the immense benefits of Free Trade Zones (FTZs) to Nigeria’s economy.

Dr Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, Permanent Secretary, FMITI, said on Wednesday in Abuja.

He spoke at a one-day sensitisation awareness workshop on the promotion and development of free trade zones across the country.

The theme of the workshop is entitled: “Creating Awareness on the Activities of the Free Trade Zones in Order to Stimulate Investment in The Sub-Sector’’.

Represented by Dr Suleman Audu, Director, Commodities and Export Department, FMITI, Sani-Gwarzo stressed the need to explore investment potential in free trade zones to create profitable and sustainable businesses.

According to him, it is important to bring to the fore the vast opportunities in the free trade zones and the strategies for harnessing them for wealth creation and employment generation.

“It is equally important to develop innovative ways to harness the investment potential that abound in the free trade zones in order to create profitable and sustainable businesses.

“As a ministry, we are committed to supporting activities that will help harness the immense benefit of free trade zones to the economy, which is at the core of why the ministry set up a review committee not too long.

“The committee will come up with far reaching recommendation that will upscale activities in the zones, especially now that the export market is growing by the day.

“It is equally important to state that the Federal Government, through the FMITI is committed to the pursuit of implementing the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan MSME Fund (NESP-F), designed to revitalise and strengthen MSME in Nigeria,’’ Sani-Gwarzo.

He urged the private sector to key into the enormous opportunities that are accruable with investment at the free trade zones.

“The challenges are very daunting but equally surmountable,’’ he added.

Corroborating the Permanent Secretary, Mrs Vivian Ibeku, Deputy Director, Export Promotion and Free Zones, FMITI, described FTZs in Nigeria as evolving with enormous opportunities to create employment and promote non-oil commodities.

Ibeku, who expressed concern that potential in FTZs had yet to be harnessed, blamed it on poor implementation.

“In spite of the evolving positive trends, Nigeria has not maximally harnessed the inherent potential in the sub sector.

“This is because the country is yet to properly take advantage of the true potential of FTZs as an instrument of economic growth and diversification,’’ She added. (NAN)

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Business & Economy

ECOWAS Trade Promotion Organisation re-elects Dr. Ezra, as president

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Dr. Ezra Yakusak - MD/CEO NEPC
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Dr. Ezra Yakusak, the Executive Director/CEO of Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), has been reelected as the President of ECOWAS Trade Promotion Organisations (TPOs) Network in Accra Ghana.

Dr. Yakusat, will serve another One-year tenure and will lead 15 other member ECOWAS countries in driving trade within the sub-region.

His re-election is also in line with Article 11 of the ECOWAS TPO Network. The ECOWAS Trade Promotion Organization is a network of all Trade Promotion Organizations in West Africa established by the decisions of Council of Ministers at the Ordinary Session.

Nigeria became the pioneer president in April 2021. Dr. Yakusat, became the president following the expiration of the tenure of Mr. Awolowo as ED/ CEO of NEPC.

A statement by the council said the re-election of Dr. Ezra was at the end of 2nd Annual General Meeting of the Network held at Alisa hotel, Accra, Ghana from 19th – 20th May, 2022.

He was re-elected along with the vice president, Mr. Ben Guy Mbangue from Cote’ D’ivoire.

The duo constitute the Executive Bureau of the Network and the tenure expires after one year. All members present unanimously re-elected the President and Vice President respectively.

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World Bank projects Nigeria’s Diaspora remittances to increase in 2022

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World Bank has projected Nigeria’s Diaspora remittance inflow to increase to $29bn in 2022 because of higher food prices and the continued adoption of official bank channels.

The bank said, migrants from the country are likely to send more money home to help with the hike in the prices of staples.

A report titled, ‘Migration and Development Brief (May 2022): A War in a Pandemic: Implications of the Ukraine crisis and COVID-19 on the global governance of migration and remittance flows,’ the bank stated that remittance flows to low and middle-income countries are expected to increase by 4.2 per cent to $630bn in 2022.

It said: “With risks weighted to the downside, there are several factors that support a view for continued—though more moderate—7.1 per cent gain inflows to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2022.

“Momentum for the use of official channels in Nigeria should sustain an uptrend in the year, within flows reaching $21bn.

“Though economic activity is likely to ease in the United States and Europe, fundamentals remain positive for continued gains in remittance flows to the remainder of Africa, as the influence of ‘altruistic’ motivations that were demonstrated in Africa and South Asia during the peak pandemic years will likely carry over to the period of sharp increases in staple food prices.”

The global bank further said remittance inflow to Sub-Saharan Africa was $49bn in 2021, with Nigerian contributing $19.2bn to the total inflow, adding that the use of informal channels to transfer money to the region caused a 28 per cent reduction in inflows in 2020.

“In 2022, remittance inflows are projected to grow by 7.1 per cent driven by continued shift to the use of official channels in Nigeria and higher food prices – migrants will likely send more money to home countries that are now suffering extraordinary increases in prices of staples,” the bank said.

The World Bank stated that the Naira-4-Dollar policy, which was an attempt to return remittance to formal channels, of the Central Bank of Nigeria helped boost inflows by 11.2 per cent in 2021, adding that the stabilisation of the naira against the dollar within a range of 410-415 per dollar over the last year also contributed to the pickup in recorded inflows.

It noted that the increased stability of the Naira and increased use of the e-Naira would help boost the nation’s chances of achieving $21bn in remittance for 2022.

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Double trouble for Ahmed Idris: arrested by EFCC, suspended by Minister

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Ahmed Idris - Account General of the Federation
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The Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris has been directed to proceed on indefinite suspension over alleged laundering of N80 billion.

Idris, was suspended on Wednesday by Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

In a letter dated May 18, 2022, the minister said the suspension “without pay” was to allow for “proper and unhindered investigation” in line with public service rules.

Ahmed Idris, was on Monday arrested by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC). over alleged diversion and laundering of N80 billion.

Wilson Uwajaren, Head of Media and Public Information of the EFCC, stated that verified intelligence reports showed that Idris raked off the funds through bogus consultancies and other illegal activities using proxies, family members and close associates.

Uwujaren added that the funds were laundered through real estate investments in Kano and in Abuja.

According to EFCC, Idris was arrested after he failed to honour invitations by the Commission to respond to issues connected to the fraudulent acts.

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