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UK rejects French claim of steps towards agreement over fishing rights row

fishing rights

UK rejects French claim of steps towards agreement over fishing rights row

A dispute between the UK and France over post-Brexit fishing rights has escalated significantly after a meeting between Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron, with Downing Street rejecting a French claim that the two leaders had agreed a path towards resolving the issue.

Johnson and the French president met alone for half an hour on Sunday morning on the fringes of the G20 summit in Rome, where they discussed the fishing row, as well as tensions over Northern Ireland and this week’s Cop26 climate summit.

In an unusual turn of events, Downing Street denied French officials’ claim that the two countries had agreed to work on “practical and operational measures” to resolve the dispute in the coming days.

In a post-G20 press conference, Macron said Britain must give ground or France would trigger threatened 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.

The disagreement threatens to distract from the vital climate summit in Glasgow, where Johnson will greet more than 120 world leaders on Monday.

After the two leaders had met, with no officials present, Macron’s staff talked about “space for de-escalation in the coming hours”. But Johnson’s spokesman denied any agreement had been reached, or that there were even formal plans for more talks to discuss the situation.

“It will be for the French to decide whether they want to step away from the threats they have made in recent days about breaching the Brexit agreement,” he said. “Of course, we would welcome that if they want to de-escalate the threats that they have made.”

Asked if this meant no agreement had been reached, the spokesperson said: “You would have to ask the French government about whether they want to proceed with the threats they have made.”

Questioned about the comments by French officials’ comments that the leaders had agreed to more “exchanges” between the two sides, Johnson’s spokesman said: “If the French government wishes to come forward with how they want to de-escalate the threats that they have made, then we would absolutely welcome them.”

Boris Johnson sought to slightly play down divisions at a post-G20 press conference, saying only: “The position is unchanged.” However, he did profess himself “puzzled” by a letter that the French prime minister, Jean Castex, sent to Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, seeking an EU-wide response to the row.

Johnson also said the letter called for the UK to be “punished for leaving the EU”, which is not the case, with Castex giving the standard EU line about it having to be shown that being outside the EU could not have the same advantages of being a member.

Downing Street officials declined to say why, in their view, the French had given a seemingly misleading account of the meeting, but they did raise the possibility that the “mooted” exchanges were simply a reference to more standard, lower-level contact between officials that would be expected anyway.

Before the meeting, France’s Europe minister, Clément Beaune, argued in a Twitter thread that the UK seemed to be making a “political choice” to target French fishing boats, saying that while 90% of overall EU requests were granted, “all the missing ones are French”, meaning 40% of French requests had not yet been approved.

Johnson’s spokesperson rejected this: “We’ve seen comments ahead of the meeting from Clément Beaune that were completely untrue to suggest that all outstanding licence decisions are for French vessels.

“We’re applying a reasonable, evidence-based approach to all EU vessels, irrespective of what member state they belong to.”

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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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