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EU riding roughshod over Northern Ireland trade, says Brexit minister

Brexit minister

EU riding roughshod over Northern Ireland trade, says Brexit minister

Relations between the EU and the UK risk further deterioration after the Brexit minister accused Brussels of behaving “without regard to the huge political, economic and identity sensitivities” in Northern Ireland.

David Frost said the bloc had “destroyed cross-community consent” with an “overly strict” enforcement of the arrangements hammered out in the withdrawal agreement of January 2020.

His comments, in a foreword to a new paper for the Policy Exchange thinktank, were published days after a second week of talks between both sides ended in deadlock.

He also articulated, in the plainest terms yet, a view held in Downing Street that the protocol’s terms were foisted upon Britain owing to the weakness of Theresa May in the first phase of negotiations in 2017.

Lord Frost said the EU-UK joint report, which set the terms for the article 50 process of divorce from the EU, was a result of the UK failing to make “the necessary mental shift from being a member of the EU to negotiating exit from the EU”.

The joint report was a landmark moment in the history of Brexit, marked by the humiliation of May by Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party in December 2017 just as she was about to co-sign it with the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

The then-DUP leader Arlene Foster, who was propping up May’s government, told her she would not support clauses which meant Northern Ireland would remain in regulatory alignment with the republic if the border problem could not be solved in second phase of negotiations.

Days later the section of the joint report was changed to accommodate the DUP but the sequencing of Brexit was set in stone, putting the Irish border solutions into the legally binding withdrawal agreement – Dublin’s point of maximum leverage – rather than future trade relations.

The faultlines generated by the sequencing appear to be driving Frost’s demands for fundamental changes to the protocol.

He says he considered resigning from his role as foreign affairs special adviser to Boris Johnson, then foreign secretary, after reading the terms of the joint report and realising “a crucial pass had been sold”.

Frost said the protocol agreed that December was a result of the “extreme weakness” of the UK government after the June 2017 election. “We must return to the protocol and deliver a more robust, and more balanced, outcome than we could in 2019.”

The Policy Exchange paper – The Northern Ireland Protocol: the origins of the current crisis, by Roderick Crawford – provides a chronology of Brexit negotiations and what went wrong in 2017.

It argues that commitments, particularly on the Irish border, in the joint report were “a diplomatic triumph for Ireland and the Commission” but that “failing to secure adequate reciprocal concessions was a staggering failure for the UK”.

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Adopting CNG can reduce Nigeria’s inflation – FG

The Nigerian government has said that successfully adopting Compressed Natural Gas can reduce inflation, which soared to 33.69 per cent in April 2024.

The Programme Director of the Presidential Initiative on Compressed Natural Gas, Pi-CNG, Michael Oluwagbemi, disclosed this during a one-day South-South and South-East stakeholders’ engagement meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

He noted that Nigerians can realize between 40 to 50 per cent savings from petrol upon adopting CNG.

“It can reduce inflation. It is cheaper. You can realize between 40% and 50% savings from patrol. This is good for Nigeria, and it is safer.

“It is 18 times safer than petrol and diesel. It is cleaner and safer for the environment,” he said.

He added that Nigeria would save about $2.5 billion by converting every one million vehicles to CNG.

Recall that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu asked all federal government ministries, departments and agencies to procure CNG buses.

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Nigeria won’t need to import fuel by June — Dangote

Aliko Dangote, Chairman of the Dangote Group, announced that by next month, Nigeria will no longer need to import gasoline due to the operational plans of the Dangote Refinery.

Speaking as a panellist at the Africa CEO Forum Annual Summit in Kigali, Dangote highlighted that the refinery, which has already commenced supplying diesel and aviation fuel in Nigeria, has the capacity to fulfil the diesel and petrol needs of West Africa and the aviation fuel requirements for the entire African continent.

Dangote emphasised, “Right now, Nigeria has no cause to import anything apart from gasoline, and by sometime in June, within the next four or five weeks, Nigeria shouldn’t import anything like gasoline; not one drop of a litre.”

Highlighting how far the oil company has come, Dangote expressed how they are focused on ensuring that the continent will depend less on imports in the near future.

“We have enough gasoline to give to at least the entire West Africa, and diesel to give to West Africa and Central Africa. We have enough aviation fuel to give to the entire continent and also export some to Brazil and Mexico,” he said.

“Today, our polypropylene and our polyethene will meet the entire demand of Africa, and we are doing base oil, which is like engine oil; we are doing linear benzyl, which is a raw material to produce detergent. We have 1.4 billion people in the population; nobody is producing that in Africa.

“So, all the raw materials for our detergents are imported. We are producing that raw material to make Africa self-sufficient.

“As I said, give us three or a maximum of four years, and Africa will not, I repeat, not import any more fertiliser from anywhere.

“We will make Africa self-sufficient in potash, phosphate, and urea; we are at three million metric tonnes, and in the next twenty months, we will be at six million metric tonnes of urea, which is the entire capacity of Egypt. We are getting there.”

Dangote recalled how his dream for further investment in Africa as well as ending fuel importation in Africa has culminated in what is now one of the biggest refineries in the world.

“For some of us, despite the boom of the capital market in the US—you know, Google, Microsoft, and the rest—we didn’t participate; we took all our money and invested in Africa.

“We had this dream just about five years ago, and we said we wanted to move from five billion dollars in revenue to thirty billion dollars in revenue, and we made it happen. It is possible and now we have made it happen and now we have finished our refinery.

“Our refinery is quite big; it is something that we believe that Africa needs. If you look at the whole continent, there are only two countries that don’t import petroleum products, which is a tragedy.

“They are only Algeria and Libya. The rest are all importers. So, we need to change and make sure that we don’t just go and produce raw materials; we should also produce finished products and create jobs.

Speaking further, the African richest man said, “One of the things we also need to know as Africans is that we produce raw materials and export them when you export raw materials and somebody now keeps importing things into your continent and dumping goods. what you are importing is poverty and exporting jobs. So, we have to change that narrative.”

“We just commissioned in February, and now we are producing jet fuel, diesel, and by next month, gasoline.

“What that would do is that we would be taking most of the African crude that is being produced and also be able to supply not only Nigeria because our capacity is too big for Nigeria, but it would also supply West Africa, Central Africa, and also South Africa.

“We have 650,000 barrels per day, 1 million metric tonnes of polypropylene, and 590,000 metric tonnes of carbon black; those are the raw materials—ink, dyes and co.

“We are expanding more. This is the first phase and we are going out to the next phase, which will start early next year.”(tribune)

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Business

Customs FX rate for import duties rises to N1,530/$

The foreign exchange (FX) rate for import duties has been adjusted by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to N1,530 per dollar.

This was adopted on Friday, May 17, representing a 6.13 percent increase compared to the N1,441.58 adopted on May 6.

The NCS always adopts FX rates recommended by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for import duties based on trading activities in the official FX market

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