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UK promises ‘robust’ reaction if EU starts trade war over Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland

UK promises ‘robust’ reaction if EU starts trade war over Northern Ireland

The UK will react in a “robust” manner if the EU launches a retaliatory trade war in the event of Brexit talks on Northern Ireland breaking down, the government has warned.

The Brexit minister, David Frost, said he expected the EU to issue its formal response to the UK’s demand for renegotiation of the Northern Ireland protocol within the next 10 days, as he outlined fresh detail on the timeline for talks.

It means a November crunch time for the Democratic Unionist party, which on Monday repeated its threat to quit Northern Ireland’s power-sharing administration and force fresh Stormont elections if substantial progress on ditching the protocol is not made.

Lord Frost said he would then engage with the EU in an “intensive” manner for a “short period” before deciding whether to trigger article 16, the mechanism to suspend parts of the protocol and enter a formal dispute.

“On the talks question, we must do it as quick as possible … The team is ready to go to Brussels,” he said. “We need a short and intensive negotiation, and when I say short, I mean weeks, three weeks.”

“I personally believe there comes a decision point probably around early November when we know an agreement can be reached or it cannot and certain consequences flow from that,” Frost added.

Speaking at a Centre for Brexit Policy event at the Conservative party conference, Frost also warned that if no agreement could be reached, the UK would be “robust” if the EU retaliated by imposing tariffs or other barriers to trade flow between Great Britain and the EU.

“We don’t think retaliation makes any of those things any easier,” he said, but if they did launch trade wars, which could include enforcement action in other parts of the Brexit deal, “proportionality is important”.

Earlier on Monday, the leader of the DUP gave Boris Johnson until the end of October to solve the Northern Ireland protocol row, just hours after the UK issued a veiled threat to the EU that it would pull the plug on the Brexit arrangements.

At a private meeting with the prime minister in Manchester and later at a public event, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson warned that the party needed him to “take action within weeks” or he would force an election in Northern Ireland.

Donaldson, however, said he was “greatly encouraged” by what Johnson had told him on Monday morning and hoped that significant progress could be made within the next three weeks.

The DUP leader was speaking shortly after Frost said Britain “cannot wait for ever” for the EU to respond to its demands to rewrite the Brexit arrangement.

In a speech to the conference, Frost said he had been waiting since July for a formal request for substantial changes to the protocol, which the UK has largely suspended over objections to checks on a range of goods, including sausages.

“We cannot wait for ever. Without an agreed solution soon, we will need to act, using the article 16 safeguard mechanism, to address the impact the protocol is having on Northern Ireland,” he said.

Setting the scene for an imminent triggering of article 16, he said he was not confident that the EU would meet his demands.

“From what I hear, I worry that we will not get one [a response] which enables the significant change we need,” Frost said. .

The government is also coming under renewed pressure from the European Research Group of MPs to ditch the protocol completely.

The chair of the influential group of backbench Tory MPs, Mark Francois, said its members knew the protocol was flawed when they voted for the withdrawal agreement in January 2020, but went into it with their “eyes wide open”. He said the group viewed the protocol as unfinished business at the time and had faith in Frost and Johnson’s ability to renegotiate the arrangements.

David Trimble, one of the architects of the 1998 Northern Ireland peace accord, said there was little point in waiting for the EU to renegotiate the protocol. “They will never change their position. We need to repudiate the entire arrangement.”

The EU’s ambassador to the UK, João Vale de Almeida, said there was nothing strange or unexpected in Frost’s speech, promising a response to the UK’s demands within the coming weeks.

Business

DMO Issues Two FGN Savings Bonds At N1,000/unit

The Debt Management Office (DMO) has announced its Dec. issuance of two Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) Savings Bonds at N1,000 per unit.

According to a statement by the DMO, the first offer is a two-year FGN Savings Bond due on Dec. 14, 2022, at an interest rate of 12.255 percent per annum.

The second one is a three-year FGN Savings Bond due on Dec. 14, 2025, at a 13.255 percent interest rate per annum.

It said that the opening date for the issuance of the bonds is Dec.5, the closing date is Dec. 9, the settlement date, is Dec. 14 while coupon payment dates are March 14, June 14, Sept. 14, and Dec. 14.

“They are issued at N1,000 per unit subject to a minimum subscription of N5,000 and in multiples of N1,000 thereafter, subject to a maximum subscription of N50 million.

“Interest is payable quarterly, while bullet repayment is made on the maturity date, ” it said.

It added that FGN savings bonds qualify as securities in which trustees can invest under the Trustee Investment Act.

“They qualify as government securities within the meaning of the Company Income Tax Act and Personal Income Tax Act for tax exemption for pension funds amongst other Investors.

“They are listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and qualify as liquid assets for liquidity ratio calculation for banks,” it said.

The statement said they were backed by the full faith and credit of the Federal Government of Nigeria, and charged upon the general assets of the country.

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Business

DMO Says It has Raised N130bn From Sukuk For Key Road Projects

The Debt Management Office (DMO) says it raised N130 billion from its N100 billion sovereign al ’Ijarah sukuk opened on November 21, 2022.

DMO, in a statement on Monday disclosed that the offer of N100 billion was “upsized to N130 billion due to the over 165 percent subscription level”.

The Sukuk is a strategic initiative that supports infrastructure development, promotes financial inclusion and deepens the domestic securities market.

Since the establishment of the initiative in September 2017, Nigeria has issued four sovereign sukuk: 2017 (N100 billion), 2018 (N100 billion), 2020 (N162.557 billion), and 2021 (N250 billion).

According to the statement, this year’s total sovereign sukuk issuance moved to N742.557 billion.

“The Debt Management Office (DMO) is pleased to inform the public of the successful conclusion of the issuance of N100 billion sovereign al ’ijarah sukuk. The offer for N100 billion opened on November 21, 2022, and was supported by wide public sensitisation to encourage subscription from diverse investors, particularly the retail investors,” the statement reads.

“The initial offer size of N100 billion was upsized to N130 billion due to the over 165 percent subscription level. The Sukuk was issued at a rental rate of 15.64 percent per annum. This brings the total sovereign sukuk issuance to N742.557 billion as at date.”

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Business

CBN Limits Withdrawal To N100,000 Weekly

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Tuesday slashed the cash withdrawal by an individual to N100,000 per week by an individual.

The apex bank also fixed N500,000 as the amount a company can withdraw in a week.

By this new policy, account holders can only withdraw a maximum of N100,000 weekly through Automated Teller Machine (ATM), subject to a maximum of N20,000 daily withdrawal.

Under the new policy, which is to take effect from January 9, 2023, the maximum cash withdrawal via Point of Sale (POS) shall also be N20,000 daily.

This was contained in a circular issued by the CBN on Tuesday, signed by director of banking supervision, Haruna Mustafa and addressed to deposit money banks and other financial institutions.

According to the circular, deposit money banks and other financial institutions are also mandated to ensure that over-the-counter cash withdrawals by individuals and corporate entities do not exceed N100,000 and N500,000, respectively, per week.

It further indicated that all cash withdrawals in excess of the stated limits will attract processing fees of 5 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.

The new policy also states that third party cheques in excess of N50,000 shall not be eligible for over the counter payment, while extant limits of N10,000,000 on clearing cheques subsist.

“Only denomination of N200 and below shall be loaded into the ATMs.

“In compelling circumstances not exceeding once a month, where cash withdrawals above the prescribed limits is required for legitimate purposes, such cash withdrawals shall not exceed N5,000,000 and N10,000,000 for individuals and corporate organisations respectively, and shall be subject to the references processing fees in (1) above, in addition to enhanced due diligence and further information requirements,” the circular stated.

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