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UK strikes trade deal with New Zealand – but it may add nothing to GDP

New Zealand

UK strikes trade deal with New Zealand – but it may add nothing to GDP

Britain has struck a trade deal with New Zealand, a key ally, as ministers hope to stem the country’s reliance on China – but the agreement is expected to add no value to the UK’s gross domestic product.

Despite the Department for International Trade heralding the deal as a “groundbreaking” achievement that was a “vital part” of Boris Johnson’s commitment to levelling up, the prime minister has been accused of selling out British farmers.

Tariffs as high as 10% are set to be removed on a range of UK goods, including clothes, buses, ships and bulldozers. The price of New Zealand-produced sauvignon blanc, manuka honey and kiwifruit should dip after 16 months of talks.

Trade between the UK and New Zealand is now worth £2.3bn a year, and the government said that would rise as the deal would make it easier for smaller businesses to break into the New Zealand market – as well as remove barriers for advanced tech and services companies.

It follows the recent trade agreement struck with Japan and the deal struck in principle with Australia. The focus on the region is part of Johnson’s 10-year plan to tilt the UK’s foreign policy focus towards the Indo-Pacific, strengthening the alliance and position of democratic countries in the region to make them more competitive against China.

New Zealand is heavily reliant on China for trade, with more than 30% of its exports going to Chinese markets. The country has come under fire in the past for adopting slightly gentler rhetoric on China than some of its allies – a stance critics have claimed is as a result of trade dependency. Foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta has previously urged exporters to diversify and reduce their vulnerability to geopolitical shocks like the trade war Australia is experiencing.

New Zealand opposition leader Judith Collins told the Guardian this month that by not providing free trade agreements, the US and UK were “leaving the door open” to Chinese dominance in the indo-Pacific region.

Ardern said that Covid-19 had taught the country that “we must have as many options for our world-class products to ensure certainty for our primary producers, our economy and our people”.

The deal may boost New Zealand’s GDP by $970m or around 0.3%. However, last year’s analysis by the UK government found that its effect on Britain’s GDP would probably have “limited effect … in the long run” – being between a positive growth of 0.01% or negative growth of -0.01%.

Boris Johnson said: “This is great trade deal for the United Kingdom, cementing our long friendship with New Zealand and furthering our ties with the Indo-Pacific. It will benefit businesses and consumers across the country, cutting costs for exporters and opening up access for our workers.”

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said: “It’s one of our best deals ever and secured at a crucial time in our Covid recovery.”

“This deal will cut costs for exporters immediately, creates opportunities for New Zealand businesses to grow and diversify their trade, while boosting the economy as we recover from Covid-19.”

Minette Batters, the National Farmers Union president, said it would open the country’s doors to “significant extra volumes of imported food – whether or not produced to our own high standards – while securing almost nothing in return for UK farmers”.

She added: “We should all be worried that there could be a huge downside to these deals, especially for sectors such as dairy, red meat and horticulture. The government is now asking British farmers to go toe to toe with some of the most export-oriented farmers in the world, without the serious, long-term and properly funded investment in UK agriculture that can enable us to do so.

“It’s incredibly worrying that we’ve heard next to nothing from government about how it will work with farming to achieve this.”

Labour’s shadow international trade secretary, Emily Thornberry, echoed the criticism and said the deal would generate just £112m in additional exports for UK firms compared with pre-pandemic levels. Referring to the price tag of a new national flagship, she claimed the total value for businesses from the agreement would be “less than half the cost of Boris Johnson’s new yacht”.

Thornberry said: “It is a deal whose only major winners are the mega-corporations who run New Zealand’s meat and dairy farms, all at the expense of British farmers who are already struggling to compete. But for British jobs, growth and exports, this deal is yet another massive failure.”

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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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