Afreximbank commits N17b to Nigeria

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… Asian shares drop as eyes turn to central bank meetings***

About $17 billion has been approved by African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) for Nigerian entities since its commencement of operations in 1994 and last December, its President, Benedict Oramah, has said.

Oramah, who was speaking in Abuja when he led the bank’s delegation on a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari, said the bank’s facilities had made major impact on critical sectors of the Nigerian economy and that the bank had outstanding loans of about $3.5 billion in Nigeria as at 31 December 2017.

He identified the sectors benefiting from the bank’s facilities to include financial institutions, transport, hospitality, manufacturing, agro-allied, oil and gas, power, and telecommunications.

Oramah said Afreximbank’s support to Nigeria had included provision of liquidity and trade finance lines of more than $800 million during the banking consolidation when many international banks cut credit lines to the country and the provision of $1.8 billion to support the economy during the recent oil price shock in 2015-2016.

He enumerated the bank’s current initiatives in Nigeria to include the development of testing and inspection centres across the country in collaboration with the Standards Organisation of Nigeria; establishment of Centre of Excellence for Tertiary Healthcare/Medical Park; potential participation in the Nigeria SEZ Investment Company Ltd being promoted by the government; support for industrial projects through loans to strategic banks; arrangement and disbursal of $750 million to the Bank of Industry in June; provision of trade and letter of credit lines to all Nigerian banks, in close coordination with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in order to ensure access to trade finance; and development of an Afreximbank Africa Trade Centre in Abuja.

Oramah added that the Bank was willing to work with the government to arrange financing of up to $1 billion to support the governments investments in trade enabling infrastructure. He invited President Buhari and the Nigerian government to attend the Afreximbank Annual Meetings scheduled to take place in Abuja from 11 to 14 July.

Oramah also informed President Buhari that Afreximbank was organising the Intra-African Trade Fair in Cairo from 11 to 17 December to promote trade among African countries.

The trade fair, being promoted in collaboration with the African Union and the Egyptian government, will be the continent’s single largest trade fair and the first of its kind. It will feature a seven-day trade show where Nigerian businesses could join others to showcase their capital goods and service offerings to a large market, including private sector corporates and government institutions from up to 55 African countries.

Responding, President Buhari thanked Oramah for the visit and commended Afreximbank for its support to the Nigerian economy as well as its work in promoting African trade. He urged the Bank provide more support to Nigeria’s agriculture sector as a way of boosting jobs and facilitating trade.

In the meantime, Asian stocks mostly fell Wednesday after a muted market response to the Trump-Kim summit. Investors have now turned their eyes to the trio of this week’s central bank meetings.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 edged up 0.3 percent in early trading at 22,934.58. South Korea’s Kospi was down by less than 0.1 percent at 2,468.83. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.6 percent to 30,913.91, and the Shanghai Composite index also lost 0.6 percent to 3,062.12. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 also dropped 0.5 percent to 6,024.10.

WALL STREET: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 4.85 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,786.85, closing at its highest level since February 1. The Nasdaq composite added 43.87 points, or 0.6 percent, to 7,703.79 and the Dow Jones industrial average fell 1.58 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 25,320.73. The Russell 2000, an index that makes up mostly small companies, rose 7.62 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,682.30.

TRUMP-KIM SUMMIT: Trump and Kim concluded their summit Tuesday by committing to working “toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” and to “build a lasting and stable peace regime” on the Korean Peninsula. Trump surprised both the Pentagon and the South Korean military by promising to end U.S. military exercises with South Korea. Details were left vague, but progress there has the chance of lowering geopolitical tensions in a region that includes three of the world’s largest economies: Japan, China and South Korea.

CENTRAL BANKS: The Federal Reserve resumes a two-day meeting on interest rates later Wednesday. Investors expect the central bank to raise its benchmark rate by a quarter of a percentage point to a range of 1.75-2 percent. However investors’ attention will focus more on how many additional rate hikes Fed officials may do this year. On Thursday, the European Central Bank will meet and could outline an end to its stimulus program, while on Friday the Bank of Japan is due to give its latest policy update.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “Fed are the ones that could surprise on the hawkish side which should support a stronger US dollar vs EUR, AUD and JPY.” said Stephen Innes, analyst at Oanda.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 41 cents to $65.95 a barrel. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 23 cents to $75.65 per barrel in London.

CURRENCY: The dollar rose to 110.54 yen from 110.30 late Tuesday in Asia. The euro fell slightly to $1.17 from $17.99.

The Nation with additional report from ABC