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Macron steps back from midnight threat against UK exports in fishing row

Macron

Macron steps back from midnight threat against UK exports in fishing row

France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, has shelved his threat to clog up UK exports and ban its fishers from landing catches at French ports from midnight in a dispute over access to British fishing waters, as his deadline approached.

Discussions resumed after a proposal was put forward by Macron’s government late on Monday. Downing Street had previously said it was bracing for Paris to deliver on its vow to retaliate over the issue of fishing permits.

“Since this afternoon, discussions have resumed on the basis of a proposal I made to prime minister [Boris] Johnson. The talks need to continue,” Macron told reporters on the sidelines of the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow. “We’ll see where we are tomorrow at the end of the day, to see if things have really changed.”

A UK government spokesperson said: “We welcome the French government’s announcement that they will not go ahead with implementing their proposed measures as planned tomorrow. As we have said consistently, we are ready to continue intensive discussions on fisheries … We welcome France’s acknowledgement that in-depth discussions are needed to resolve the range of difficulties in the UK-EU relationship.”

France had been expected to impose extra customs checks and ban British fishing boats at some French ports from midnight. Official sources initially reported that neither side was backing down in the post-Brexit row.

However, David Frost, the UK’s Brexit secretary, is to meet Clément Beaune, the French minister for EU affairs, in Paris on Thursday, to discuss possible ways out of the crisis. Beaune tweeted that he had already spoken to Frost on Monday and that he expected a response to Paris’s compromise proposal by Wednesday.

He wrote that he looked forward to an “in-depth discussion” with Frost over the range of post-Brexit issues causing problems in the British-Franco relationship.

France has been infuriated that some of its small boats are being denied permission to fish in the waters around the UK and Channel Islands. The UK insists its licensing regime is reasonable and it will continue to require boats to provide evidence that they have previously fished in those waters on at least four days in the last four years.

Johnson and Macron had bumped fists as they arrived at the Cop26 summit on Monday.

At a post-G20 press conference on Sunday, Macron initially insisted that Britain had to give ground or France would trigger trade reprisals this week. “The ball is in Britain’s court. If the British make no movement, the measures of 2 November will have to be put in place,” he said.

But on Monday evening, the French president said he had pushed back the deadline by which Paris had said it would impose the new measures.

Earlier in the day, Liz Truss, the UK foreign secretary, had told France it had 48 hours to back down on threats or Britain would begin dispute talks set out in the Brexit deal.

A spokesman for Johnson suggested there would not be retaliatory UK trade measures, but action could be triggered through the dispute mechanism. “Depending on if, or what, the French decide to do, we will enact them as and when we need to,” he said.

A meeting to find a compromise, organised by the European Commission with officials from the UK, Jersey and France, had initially been marked by a lack of movement by both sides on Monday, with sources describing the mood as sour.

Jersey’s government was preparing to provide its fishers with financial support in the expectation that its vessels would not be able to land catches in French ports. The Jersey Fishermen’s Association (JFA) also called for the island’s authorities to respond in kind to the expected crisis by closing off the whelk and scallop fisheries to French vessels and banning dredging and trawling “with immediate effect for a period of six weeks”.

The talks continued late into the evening, however.

The diplomatic row over fishing, a very small sector of the UK economy, threatened to overshadow the G20 talks, which took place in Rome at the weekend, and also the Cop26 summit.

Almost 1,700 EU vessels have been licensed to fish in UK waters, equating to 98% of EU applications for fishing licences, the UK government says, but this figure is disputed in Paris. The main area of disagreement is over the number of small French vessels given access to the immediate coastal waters of the UK and Jersey. On Monday evening, the UK government spokesperson said it would consider any new evidence to support the remaining licence applications.

Truss had suggested on Monday that Macron may be making “unreasonable threats” because he has a difficult election looming.

Asked about whether France and the UK had come to an agreement, she told Sky News: “The deal hasn’t been done. The French have made completely unreasonable threats, including to the Channel Islands and to our fishing industry and they need to withdraw those threats.”

Asked why the row had emerged, she said: “You might say there’s a French election coming up.” Seeming angered by the dispute, she added: “I’m not remotely happy about what has happened.”

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Business

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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