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UK car industry says Brexit rules are denting competitiveness

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UK car industry says Brexit rules are denting competitiveness

Car remains the UK’s No 1 export but volatile energy prices and the cost of complying with EU regulations post-Brexit are blunting the industry’s competitive advantage, the sector’s trade body has said.

Nine in 10 firms in the industry told the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) that costs, measured in time and resources, had increased as a result of leaving the EU, with 60% saying the extra expense for trading with the bloc was a “much more significant rise than other export destinations”.

Mike Hawes, the SMMT chief executive, said: “The cost of complying with new regulations has made the UK potentially less competitive compared with some of our European counterparts.

“The first few weeks months were incredibly difficult. There were delays at borders, some of those were teething problems, some of those issues were more substantive. Undoubtedly the industry is facing additional cost and complexity; costs which generally have to be absorbed, to maintain competitiveness.”

The SMMT said that regardless of such issues, the EU would “remain a central trade partner”, with about half of all cars made in Britain exported to EU member states, while almost all vans exported by the UK end up on European roads.

Overall vehicle export revenues to all markets reached £27bn in 2020, even as the Covid pandemic disrupted trade flows and shut down markets around the world.

The UK automotive sector as a whole generated a total trade revenue of £74bn, with more than 80% of British-built cars and more than 60% of light commercial vehicles destined for export.

The SMMT hopes for caps on energy prices in recognition of the importance of the new generation of electric cars to the country’s climate emergency goals.

“Production of batteries, for instance, is a capital-intensive energy industry. It’s also an energy intensive industry. So being regarded as a energy intensive user would potentially allow us to take greater advantage of caps on energy.”

The industry has energy efficiency targets in place through climate change agreements with the Environment Agency that enable some energy discounting.

But Hawes said: “We are still disadvantaged compared with some of our European colleagues.”

Miyuki Takahashi, Nissan’s general manager for government affairs, told an SMMT conference on Tuesday that trading agreements between the UK and EU were “crucial and indispensable to sustain our business”, which includes its Sunderland manufacturing plant employing 6,000 people.

She added: “We want the UK to be our electric vehicle and battery hub … We are looking to localise many components of the battery and EV supply in the UK, to comply with rules of origin and to build up trade for the UK and Japan.”

While the UK is looking to join an Asia-Pacific free trade area, Takahashi said it was unlikely that it would mean more Nissan cars directly exported from the UK. “It’s much cheaper to send it from Japan – and when we think about carbon cycle, the shipment is a big part of the emissions.”

Adrian Hallmark, the chief executive of Bentley, told the conference the Brexit agreement was functioning but had added administration costs and would need constant updating. “We’ve got another six people, it now costs us £6m more and we’ve got an extra warehouse we didn’t need … The trade deal works – but it’s like we’ve got married and have a whole life together. Now let’s get the relationships working.”

He urged government to help “make the UK a safe haven, a go-to place for battery production” as the transition to electric vehicles approaches. Hallmark warned that otherwise rules of origin in the trade deals, which require most of the car’s value to be locally sourced, would need updating for electric vehicles if tariffs were to be avoided, with the cost of batteries up to three times that of Bentley’s traditional engines: “If we don’t find a way of managing the cost of battery and how it distorts the rules of origin, that will cause problems and create tariffs.”

Business

CBN gives fresh guidelines on dormant accounts, unclaimed balances in banks

The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has directed all banks and other financial institutions in the country to transfer all dormant accounts and unclaimed balances and other financial assets to its dedicated account.

The apex bank disclosed this on Friday in a guideline on the management of dormant accounts, unclaimed balances signed by its acting director of the Financial Policy and Banking Regulation Department, John Onojah.

According to the circular, all dormant accounts and unclaimed balances with banks for at least ten years will be warehoused in a dedicated account known as the Unclaimed Balances Trust Fund (UBTF) Pool Account”.

Accordingly, CBN said the funds from Dormant Accounts, unclaimed balances may be invested in Nigerian Treasury Bills (NTBs) and other government securities.

However, the new Guideline which is a review of the Guideline issued in October 2015 exempted dormant accounts, and unclaimed balances under litigation and investigation.

“CBN shall treat unclaimed balances (dormant accounts and financial assets) as follows:

“Open and maintain the ‘UBTF Pool Account’; Maintain records of the beneficiaries of the unclaimed balances warehoused in the UBTF Pool Account;

“Invest the funds in Nigerian treasury bills (NTBs) and other securities as may be approved by the ‘Unclaimed Balances Management Committee’;

“Refund the principal and interest (if any) on the invested funds to the beneficiaries not later than ten (10) working days from the date of receipt of the request and where it is imperative to extend the timeline, a notice of extension shall be communicated to the requesting FI stating reasons for the extension,” it said.

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CBN’s decisive actions has strengthen the economy- Cardoso

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said in Abuja on Friday that its monetary policies and actions have stimulated growth and stability of the nation’s economy.

 

CBN Governor, Mr. Olayemi Cardoso, said this during an engagement with Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions.

Cardoso said that given the positive indicators, Nigerian were in for better days.

He said: “The spread between official and BDC rates has narrowed significantly from N162.62 in January to N47.22 in June indicating successful price discovery, increased market efficiency and reduced arbitrage opportunities.

“The stock of external reserves increased to 36.89 billion dollars as of July 16, compared with 33.22 billion dollars as at end-Dec 2023, driven largely by receipts from crude oil related taxes and third-party receipts.

“In first quarter 2024, we maintained a current account surplus and saw improvements in our trade balance.

According to him, the nation’s external reserves level as at end of June can finance over 11 months of importation of goods and services or 14 months of goods only.

Cardoso said this was significantly higher than the prescribed international benchmark of 3.0 months, indicating a strong buffer against external shocks.

He said that the banking sector remained robust and diverse, comprising 26 commercial banks, six merchant banks and four non-interest banks.

“Key indicators such as capital adequacy, liquidity, and non-performing loan ratios all showed impressive improvements, underscoring the sector’s growing stability and resilience.

“The equity market has shown impressive performance, with the All-Share Index rising by 33.81 per cent and market capitalisation expanding by 38.33 per cent from Dec 2023 to June 2024, reflecting growing investors’ confidence,” he said.

Cardoso said that while CBN was encouraged by these positive trends, it remained vigilant and committed to implementing policies that support sustainable growth in the financial markets, while maintaining overall economic stability.

He also assured  members of the committee that required measures and strategies had been mapped out to confront emerging challenges.

“To combat inflation, we have implemented a comprehensive set of monetary policy measures.

“These include raising the policy rate by 750 basis points to 26.25 per cent, increasing cash reserve ratios, normalising open market operations as our primary liquidity management tool.

“And adopting Inflation Targeting as our new monetary policy framework,” he said.

Cardoso said in the area of banking supervision, CBN had taken decisive actions to ensure the safety, soundness, and resilience of the banking industry.

He said that key measures included intervention in three banks, revocation of Heritage Bank’s license, increasing minimum capital requirements, and enhancing AML/CFT supervision.

“We also introduced new frameworks for Cash Reserve Requirements and cybersecurity and prohibited the use of foreign currency collaterals for local currency loans,” he said.

Cardoso said that CBN was in the process of reviewing micro and macro prudential guidelines to reinforce the resilience of financial institutions to withstand tightened conditions, thereeby creating a secure and attractive investment climate.

“We have signaled our plans to re-capitalise deposit money banks in Nigeria to improve capital inadequacy and their capacity to grow the economy.

“Our ultimate goal is to create a more stable, resilient, and efficient financial system that can better serve the Nigerian economy, while adhering to international best practices,” he said.

Earlier, Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Adetokunbo Abiru, said the purpose of the interaction was to update the committee on efforts, activities, objectives and plans of the CBN with respect to monetary policy.

 

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Nigeria’s external reserves surge to $35.77bn – CBN

Nigeria’s external reserves increased to $35.77 billion on Thursday up from the $33.09 Billion at the end of 2023.

This is according to Thursday’s data from the Central Bank of Nigeria on the country’s external reserves movement.

The figure represents a $2.68 billion increase in the country’s external reserves in the past six months.

Further data showed that Nigeria’s foreign reserve crossed the $35.05bn on July 8 to the $35.77 mark on Thursday.

Meanwhile, according to the recently released economic outlook by CBN, titled ‘Macroeconomic Outlook: Price Discovery for Economic Stabilisation’, the apex bank had projected a decline in the country’s external reserves in 2024.

The CBN based its assumption on continued payments of outstanding foreign exchange forward obligations, matured foreign exchange swaps, and debt service.

The apex bank, however, said, “the expected improvement in crude oil earnings, together with recent reforms in the foreign exchange market and energy sector, however, would cushion the drop in external reserves.”

The outlook also projected a marginal increase to $19.42 billion from $19.17 billion in 2023 for diaspora remittances.

“The external reserves, which stood at $33.09bn in 2023 could reduce slightly in 2024.

“This is on the assumption of continued payments of outstanding foreign exchange forward obligations, matured foreign exchange swaps, and debt service,” it said.

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