…As Oil heads for 7% weekly gain after Saudi attacks***
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday lauded the ongoing closure of Nigerian land borders for a limited period in a bid to curb massive smuggling, saying the gesture is already yielding positive result for the economy.
The president stated this when he received a delegation from the Nigerian Association for Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) at the State House, Abuja.
The delegation also comprised of the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI) and representatives of the Organised Private Sector (OPS).
Buhari said that the closure was necessitated by the lack of adherence to the business ideals by various stakeholders which was detrimental to the country and its people.
“After many years of diplomacy and aggressive regulatory oversight which yielded few results, we decided to close our land borders for a limited time to assess the impact of this measure.
“Within a few short weeks, we are already seeing a decline in the volumes of counterfeit smuggled goods in some of our major markets across the country.
“This validates our action as a Government when we insist that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) must not only promote free trade, but legal trade of quality made in Africa goods and services,” he said.
Buhari says everyone must play by the rules when it comes to trade and business activities that are central to Nigeria’s economic development.
He added that his administration would ensure that the trade and business sector continues to flourish in job creation.
He said: “Unfortunately, in recent times, many traders simply do not play by the rules.
“Our markets are flooded with smuggled and counterfeit goods. By these selfish practices, we help keep foreign factories working while closing ours.
Also read: Border closure boosts local rice patronage
“From medicines to electronics to food items, our potential to manufacture and create jobs locally is severely hindered by a handful of Nigerians who choose profits over patriotism.
“We have all heard stories about the dangerous and sometimes, fatal impact of fake drugs and foods on our citizens.
“We have also seen how fake electrical items have led to fires in homes and markets thereby destroying lives and properties.
“Most of these substandard and illegal items are smuggled through our land borders.’’
According to the president, his administration will continue to solicit the support of the organised private sector, both in Nigeria and across West Africa, to bring an end to the dumping of substandard items.
He urged the Association to continue its ‘‘positive and patriotic contribution’’ towards achieving a free trade area that employs Africans to produce quality made in Africa products.
“We will soon finalise the National Action Committee on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area. Your Association is a member of this committee.
“I expect you to continue your positive and patriotic contribution to support us in achieving a free trade area that employs Africans to produce quality made in Africa products,’’ the President said.
In her remarks, Hajiya Saratu Aliyu, President FEWACCI, NACCIMA and OPS, commended the recent decision by the President to constitute a new economic team to steer the Nigerian economy on the path of sustainable growth.
On the Economic Advisory Council (EAC), she said: ”NACCIMA, FEWACCI and indeed the OPS are full of hope that a new era is on the horizon with the calibre of persons on the team which reassures us at the OPS that Government is ready to turn around the story of Nigeria.”
Aliyu also hailed significant accomplishments recorded in all sectors of the economy including but not limited to reduced corruption, foreign exchange stability, bottom of the pyramid programmes, increased ease of doing business, increased capital expenditures, among others.
The president of NACCIMA appealed for the President’s intervention in the provision of property within Abuja for the location of FEWACCI headquarters.
She also briefed the President about the 21-point NACCIMA programme, tagged ‘‘Unleash the Giant’’.
She added that the association intended to engage the Federal Government on 16 of those stated points with the goal of ensuring business growth and socioeconomic advancement through public and private sector collaboration.
Meanwhile, oil prices were on track for their biggest weekly jump since January, lifted by rising Middle East tensions after a key Saudi Arabian supply hub was knocked out by an attack last weekend.
A Saudi-led coalition launched a military operation north of Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah while the United States worked with Middle East and European nations to build a coalition to deter Iranian threats after the Saudi attack.
Brent crude LCOc1 was up more than 7 per cent from last Friday’s close, the biggest weekly rise since January, with the front-month November contract up 28 cents at 64.69 dollars a barrel by 1347 GMT.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 rose 34 cents to 58.47 dollars a barrel, set for a weekly gain of almost 7 per cent.
“Investors should probably assume that oil stabilizes for now in the 60-65 dollars per barrel range, though the risk is to the upside,” said Jefferies analyst Christopher Wood.
“The central message from the attacks is the vulnerability of the Saudi infrastructure.”
Saudi Arabia’s production dropped by almost half after the attack on Sept. 14 crippled a major oil processing facility. Its oil minister has pledged to restore lost production by the end of this month.
Reuters reporters were shown repair work under way at both the Khurais field and the Abqaiq oil processing facility hit by the attack.
Saudi Aramco said at the site on Friday that it was shipping equipment from the United States and Europe to rebuild the damaged facilities.
It also said that Abqaiq is expected to have full capacity restored by the end of the month.
The United States and Saudi Arabia blame Iran for the assault on Saudi oil facilities. Tehran denies any involvement.
“You have the flooding in Houston as well, so going into the weekend there will be a lot of short-covering, which will support prices,” said Olivier Jakob of consultant Petromatrix.
“Next week, you have the United Nations General Assembly meeting so the focus will turn to whether U.S. President Trump actually meets Iran’s president.”
In the United States, meanwhile, torrential rain from Tropical Storm Imelda has forced a major refinery to cut production and to shut a key oil pipeline, terminals and a ship channel in Texas.
Exxon Mobil Corp shut some units at its 369,024 barrel per day (bpd) Beaumont refinery while Valero Energy Corp reduced production at its 335,000 bpd Port Arthur refinery.
With additional reports from Reuters