Connect with us


France to use ‘language of force’ in post-Brexit fishing rights row


France to use ‘language of force’ in post-Brexit fishing rights row

Clément Beaune, has said Paris will “now use the language of force” in an escalation of a row over post-Brexit fishing rights, as French maritime police seized a British trawler found in its territorial waters without a licence.

One vessel had been stopped off Le Havre in the early hours of Thursday morning after which it was rerouted to the quay and “handed over to the judicial authority”, while a second was given a verbal warning.

In a statement, the French government said the checks during the scallop fishing season had been routine but admitted they were conducted “in the context of the discussion on licences with the United Kingdom and the European Commission”.

The French government has been infuriated in recent months by the response of the authorities in the UK and Jersey to post-Brexit applications from French fishing vessels for permits to its waters, which are regulated by the EU-UK trade deal agreed on Christmas Eve last year.

The row blew up on Wednesday when Paris said it would ban British fishing boats landing seafood in key ports from Tuesday unless their received further licences for French vessels and vowed to impose onerous checks on cross-Channel trade.

There was also a threat issued to the UK’s energy supply if those initial sanctions from Paris did not prompt the issuing of extra permits.

The move prompted a dramatic response from Downing Street, where a spokesperson for Boris Johnson said the UK government would retaliate over what was described as a potential breach of international law.

Sources in Brussels confirmed there was not yet support among the other 26 member states for EU action against the UK on the issue through the dispute resolution mechanism in the trade-and-cooperation deal.

Later on Thursday morning, Beaune doubled down, however, on the threat of unilateral French action saying the situation was “not acceptable”. “So now, we need to speak the language of force since that seems to be the only thing this British government understands,” he said. “We have been extremely patient, our fishing boats have been extremely responsible, because it’s a major loss of their activity. From November, it’s over. We’ll open dialogue if the British want dialogue – it’s up to them – but we’ll put in place retaliation measures because there is no reason we shouldn’t have access to their waters when they have access to our ports.”

The UK has claimed that 1,700 EU vessels have now been licensed to fish in UK waters and that 98% of applications for fishing licences had been granted.

The French maritime minister, Annick Girardin, accused the UK of spreading misinformation. “The figure of 98% of licences granted by the United Kingdom to Europeans is false,” she said. “Only 90.3% were. Obviously, the missing 10% are for the French … It has been nine months since French fishermen have no longer been able to work. It is a breach of their signature by the British. That’s enough.”

The main differences between the two sides centres on rights within the 6-12 mile zone from the British coast. Earlier this week, the European Commission said the UK government had approved 15 out of 47 applications for French boats to operate in those coastal waters. A further 15 applications are being considered where evidence of activity in those waters is limited, but 17 applications have been withdrawn by French applicants because of “poor evidence”.

Of greater concern to the French authorities, a third of boats applying to fish in the waters off Jersey, a British crown dependency, have also been turned down by the island’s government.

Barrie Deas, from the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, the body representing fishers in England, said the descent into a “tit for tat” relationship was “unhelpful”.

He told the BBC’s Today programme: “It may be normal enforcement action but against the background of the threatening noises coming from the French government … it’s very concerning.

“France seems determined to escalate this issue about licences and I suppose we have to wonder why. There’s a presidential election coming up in France and all the signs are that the rhetoric has been ramped up ahead of that on the fishing issue.”

Deas added: “[The amount of] UK vessels landing into French ports is not massive. It’s a bit strange because the French fleets fish much more in UK waters than we fish in their waters.

“Therefore if we descend into a tit-for-tat relationship, I think the French fleet are very much more exposed – I don’t think that’s a very helpful way to go. It’s a strange direction for the French to take, which is why we conclude that this has all been politicised.”

Lord Frost, the UK’s Brexit minister, tweeted that it was “very disappointing” that the French government had made the threats and the government would seek “urgent clarification” of France’s plans and “will consider what further action is necessary in that light”, he said.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Edo: Obaseki Targets N70b IGR By 2024

The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has said the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) will grow in excess of N70 billion by 2024.

The governor, while speaking to journalists in Benin at the weekend, said the state’s monthly IGR collection, since 2016, has consistently increased as a result of the conscious investments made by his administration in boosting the local economy.

Obaseki said the IGR growth would come from leveraging its comparative advantage and exploring opportunities in technology, culture, manufacturing, and agriculture, among other sectors of the state’s economy.

He said, “For the past seven years, we have focused on the economy, setting modalities on the ground to create an economic revolution in Edo State. Our focus was to attract private investors to Edo to focus on areas where we have a competitive and comparative advantage. We said the government would be made an enabler to stimulate and ignite business opportunities in Edo State.

“Since 2016, our monthly IGR collection has consistently increased as a result of the conscious investments made in boosting our local economy. Our partnerships and popular ‘MOUs’ have set Edo on the path of financial sustainability.

“Government is now working more efficiently and we are seeing the results of the hard work in terms of revenue increases. Between 2016 and 2023, we have achieved a lot in terms of IGR for the state, and next year, we anticipate that we will get an IGR in excess of N70 billion.

“Projects like the Gelegele Seaport and Enterprise Park, among others, will further impact the Internally Generated Revenue of the state in years to come”.

In other sectors of the state’s economy, Obaseki stated, “We have done a lot with cassava and ethanol as well as oil palm in the agricultural sector. We have worked hard with partners to open up the retail space in Edo State and hopefully, before the end of the year, we will be launching about 60 shops in the Benin Mall with different facilities.

“The future we see is a state with organised infrastructure to support the private sector production. We have done a lot with the Benin Enterprise Park as we are working on the one in Benin and have acquired land to build those in Edo Central and Edo North. We are hoping that the future is one where the government will work very closely with the private sector to drive the growth of Edo State’s economy”.

Continue Reading


Dangote, BUA’s destructive trade war

Yes, it is a season of claims and counter-claims. Yet, cost of living is hitting the roof. Hunger is pelting the bellies of both the righteous and the infidel. Living life is almost becoming a rocket science. Charles Soludo, luxuriating in public acclamation of “one of the most cerebral Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governors”, is in his season of pontificating. Last week, he offered an escapist defence of the Nigerian establishment which citizens’ hunger could not penetrate. Soludo’s latest proffer for the people’s hunger is that the current government met a dead economy; a dead horse was his exact word. Permit me to extend that logic by borrowing British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s “just let people die”, and ask Soludo, “so let Nigerians die” because the economy inherited was a dead horse? Or, what is the final destination of that argument? There have since been attempts at economic necromancy. Every attempt must be made to make this economy’s corpse walk.

That is however not the drift of this piece. Two octopuses of Nigerian financial ocean are at daggers drawn at the moment and their destructive tiffs are rebounding negatively on the economy. Aliko Dangote of the famous Dangote Group and Abdul Samad Rabiu of BUA, two czars of the largest business entities in Nigeria, are fighting dirty. On the streets, in the courts and in the media, the two blue whales of the Nigerian economy are engaged in an acrimonious rivalry that is unexampled. A few weeks ago, that rivalry landed in the public space like a smelly puddle. The two of them openly washed their dirty linens, linens that had hitherto been wrapped in shawls of hushed whispers.

How does anyone describe this tiff, with its blood-baiting mutual exchange? A business rivalry, peer jealousy or business vulture tendency gone awry? It is a duel that has provoked such self-cancelling ruckus, the type found among co-wives in polygamy. An immediate correlation I can readily find to describe this is an autobiographical movie authored by Oyin Adejobi, late Yoruba cripple thespian. Adejobi was renowned for his famous African alternative dispute resolution drama sketches called Kootu Asipa of the 1980s. In it, he allegorised the story of how he became disabled. In Orogun Adedigba, (the wicked co-wife), Adejobi narrativized how his mother’s jealously wicked co-wife puffed up the fire of a destructive potion that immobilized him for life. That singular malediction became the burden Adejobi shouldered for his 74 years on earth. Though the Osogbo-born thespian’s stepmother’s potion succeeded in crippling him, it couldn’t stop the realization of his life’s attainment. Iconoclastic Yoruba Kennery brand music lord, Orlando Owomoyela (Owo’s) Itan Orogun Meji (the story of two co-wives) also explains the concept of a polygamous home’s squabbles which bear similar indicators to the Dangote and Rabiu self-neutralizing squabble.

Owomoyela, the nonconformist musician’s narrative goes thus: Two co-wives in a traditional African Yoruba home were engaged in spirited scuffles for the heart of their joint household. One day, the eldest wife conspired to kill the son of her co-wife, simply because he was more brilliant than hers. She cooked a portage delicacy served in two different plates. One, which was invitingly reddish and garnished with condiments, was sauced with a killer potion while the second plate, bereft of any poison, was whitish and uninviting. As the children of the two women arrived from school, they headed for the plates of food. While the son of the woman who hewn the death drama picked the reddish but poisoned plate, her stepson picked the one without. The malefactor’s son dies but the co-wife’s immediately went to the local football field and went a-playing football. Owo’s moral in the song is similar to that in Bob Marley’s Small Axe track. They both teach that anyone who contrives calamity for his fellow man can be compared to a man shouldering an army of ants-infested evil faggots which would soon bite them to death. Marley termed such evil-dispenser ‘whosoever diggeth a pit’ who ‘shall fall in it’.

Attempts have been made to explain the Dangote/Rabiu rivalry and euphemise its deadly portent. In this regard, they say it is nothing outside the rivalries between Coke and Pepsi, Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks in America. This drift is expatiated upon by invoking the ghost of Adam Smith in his famous The Wealth of Nations. In it, Smith extolled the importance of competition to the public good and submitted that relentless competition is not only healthy but is a core principle of the market economy.

But what healthy rivalry would make two brothers, from same Kano State, involved in same line of businesses, not work towards to expand the frontiers of their markets but would rather seek their individual mutual destruction? While Dangote Cement is the largest cement product in Nigeria, controlling an over 60% market share, BUA Cement comes second, boasting of a market share of around 20 per cent. Since 2008, the two companies have squared up in a bull’s fight. In the sugar refinery sector, the tango they are engulfed in is a fight of death as well. While Dangote’s sugar refinery, the most humongous in Nigeria, holds a market share of over 70 per cent, BUA’s follows distantly with a market share hovering around 20 per cent. It is this kind of duel you encounter in William Shakespeare plays where two armoured men clank swords in a battle that would only cease when one of them has breathed its last. It was always a duel on issue of honour or betrayal.

It is a common feature in this Dangote/Rabiu Orogun Adedigba tussle to hear of the two businessmen’s serpentine attempts to destroy each other. In 2020 for example, BUA Cement accused Dangote Cement of blocking access to its Edo State limestone quarry. Dangote Sugar Refinery responded to the alleged shenanigan by accusing BUA Sugar Refinery of price-fixing. They are both currently narrating details of these allegations before MiLords. The next year, BUA authored the wolf cry of alleging that Dangote Sugar Refinery had masterminded an attack on its sugar factory in Port Harcourt, Rivers State by sending hired thugs there. It also alleged that these hired hounds destroyed its property and inflicted massive injuries on its workers. Police were called in to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the allegations. Rolled into this are also allegations that one of the two business sharks deployed debilitating political connections and favoritism steeped in graft to be granted waiver on import duties for cement. The ultimate aim, it was alleged, was to aid the stifling of competition.

The most recent of this cache of allegations and counter allegations came out in a press release early this month from Dangote. It accused BUA of masterminding what it called false allegation that it was being probed by the Jim Obazee Special Investigator. It alleged that its rival claimed it was involved in illegal foreign exchange deals and money laundering which allegedly had Godwin Emefiele’s Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as lead actor. In the said press release, the Dangote group decimated these allegations as spurious and a “rehash of a similar report peddled out of malice” since 2016.

BUA’s reply didn’t thaw the ice. It documented what it alleged were a myriad of acts of sabotage authored by Dangote against its operations. It also claimed that Dangote’s allegations were “very cheap attempts at blackmail… following months of sponsored campaigns of calumny against us.” Dangote’s concatenation of treacheries against it, alleged BUA, began from 1991, which later became “a ruse that would lead to a court-sanctioned freeze of our assets,” leading to a situation in which, “for three agonising months, our accounts were garnished, warehouses shuttered, and our spirit tested. Yet, from the ashes of deceit, BUA survived.” It also listed interventions by Late President Umaru Yar’Adua and Muhammadu Buhari whose timely reach prevented the octopodal hands of Dangote from sinking its company. BUA’s song looks very similar to the lyrics of Marley’s Small Axe song: “If you are the big tree, we are the small axe/ready to cut you down/And we are gonna cut you down”!

From all the above, it should be clear that what the duo of Dangote and his Kano brother are about is beyond the Adam Smith’s health-inherent competition, nor does it resemble in any way the Coke and Pepsi, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks and Macdonald’s and Burger King competition. Those American competitions no doubt resembled Smith’s evergreen proffers in the Wealth of Nations. Not this. Many people reason that, buried inside this Dangote/Rabiu quarrel is an age-long particular issue-provoked enmity which the two are probably not ready to disclose to the public.

For Nigerian consumers of the duo’s products, this rivalry has potential benefits. A couple of months ago, BUA announced its intention to reduce the cost of cement to N3,500. Were the two friends, we would not have this people-centric riposte. The reduction in price received applauses all over Nigeria. For a shrewd businessman like Dangote for whom profit is king and not the customer, the BUA price reduction must be a scalpel to a wound. The enmity has continued regardless.

For the sectors where the two of them are major players, this inexplicable enmity has disastrous implications. Association with one must be equal to enmity with the other, an equation that is not healthy for business at all. I learnt that many top brass in the political and business spheres have attempted an armistice between Rabiu and Aliko, without any let. This affirms my earlier submission that the real reason for this rivalry may have been hidden from Nigerians.

No matter how the two business whales play out this squabble in the courts and the media, the street seems to have made up its mind on who to apportion blames. One of them is renowned with an Orogun Adedigba history of vulture-like business practices, seeking to and succeeding in swallowing the carcasses of its competitors. It is a whale that enjoys singular wallow inside the ocean and from the claws of its deadly grips, shrimps that attempted to grow have died premature deaths.

Published by the Sunday Tribune, 26th November 2023

Continue Reading


CBN To Increase Capital Base of Banks, Mandates Technology-driven Payment

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Dr Olayemi Cardoso said the CBN will increase the capital base of banks in the country so they can meet the need of a $1 trillion economy which the present government was aiming to achieve.

In his speech at the 2023 Bankers’ Dinner on Friday, Dr Cardoso said while there has been stability in the banking sector, banks in the country need sufficient capital relative to the country’s financial requirements.

“Will Nigerian banks have sufficient capital relative to the finance system’s needs in servicing a one trillion dollar economy in the near future? In my opinion, the answer is no, unless we take action,” he said.

“Therefore, we must make tough decisions regarding capital adequacy. As a first step, the Central Bank will be directing banks to increase their capital.”

The CBN boss also stressed the importance of technology in delivering financial services as well as enhancing financial inclusion.

He also spoke on financial institutions that have breached their licences regarding the use of technology to facilitate payment.

According to Cardoso, the apex bank has observed that some institutions were operating outside the approved activities.

“Any intentional or unintended non-compliance will be subject to sanctions as operators have the responsibility to ensure that they are licenced for the activity they undertake,” he said.

“As we conduct a comprehensive review of the licencing framework for payment services, we will engage in extensive consultations to engage a new regulatory and compliance framework that is suitable for the technology-driven payment services sector.”

Dr Cardoso also weighed in on the 43 items previously restricted from accessing foreign exchange (forex) from the investor’s and exporters’ (I&E) window.

“During the period when the 43 items were restricted, there is a 51 per cent increase in trade evasion by importers accessing the foreign exchange market resulting in a revue drop of approximately $1.4 billion annually between 2015 and 2019,” he said.

Continue Reading