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East Africa Optimistic the U.S. Will Revive Trade Talks

This came to the fore as leaders from the EAC congratulated Biden for his election win, with many expressing hopes that his presidency will boost ties with the regional bloc.

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The East African Community is optimistic that U.S. President-elect Joe Biden will revive the negotiations and implementations of the EAC-U.S. Trade and Investment Partnership.

This came to the fore as leaders from the East African Community congratulated Biden for his election win, with many expressing hopes that his presidency will boost ties with the regional bloc.

The Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), which is a trade pact that establishes a framework for expanding trade and resolving outstanding disputes between countries, was agreed between U.S. and EAC partner states in June 2012, but was never implemented.

TIFA was signed on July 16 2008, as a framework for expanding trade and investment between the U.S. and EAC.

But since United States President Trump took over from his predecessor Barack Obama in 2016, not much has been heard from the arrangement.

Read also: Kenya, UK, Secure Trade Deal

“We all look forward to working with the new US administration and of course hope that America’s trade and investment policies will also advance the interests of East Africa. Reviving TIFA is one of them,” said Prof Manasseh Nshuti, EAC chairperson of the Council of Ministers, who is also Rwanda’s Minister of State in charge of the East African Community.

“EAC is better negotiating multilateral trade rather than bilaterally. This is because at the end of the day, what happens in Kenya affects Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania, in terms of trade and investments.”

In April 2016, Ministers from EAC and U.S. signed the EAC-US Co-operation Agreement on Trade Facilitation, Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) but so far very little has been implemented despite the existence of agreed work plans.

Under the United States-East African Community-Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, partners consult on a wide range of issues related to trade and investment, but under President Donald Trump, this was never implemented.

Related: Kenya to be in breach of EAC, AfCFTA rules in proposed American trade deal

Topics for consultation and possible further cooperation include market access issues, labour, the environment, protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, and in appropriate cases, capacity building.

However, since 2016, the negotiations for the regional investment treaty stalled due to lack of consensus on the approach for discussions on the regional investment treaty.

“The U.S. has TIFAs with countries at different levels of development and trade and investment interests but none with the EAC,” said Dr. Peter Mathuki, CEO East African Business Council.

“As the private sector, we are expecting the revival of an up-scaled US-EAC Trade and Investment Partnership under U.S. presidential elect Joe Biden.”

EAC’s Director-General of Customs and Trade Kenneth Bagamuhunda also said he looks forward to a return to a multilateral trading system “where the trade rules will prevail over unilateralism”.

“We look forward to engagement with the US as a bloc at EAC and Continental level.”

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East Africa Business News

Zambia, IMF Plan on Credit Extension Meet in February

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Fredson Yamba, Zambia’s Secretary to the Treasury, says his country will next month hold a virtual meeting with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to negotiate an extended credit facility.

The virtual meeting will be held from February 1 to March 3, 2021, Yamba said.

According to Yamba, the meeting comes in the wake of a request by the Zambian government last November for a formal programme and a visit by an IMF team in December.

The meeting will be held under the Extended Credit Facility window which provides financial assistance to countries with protracted balance of payments challenges, a situation which the southern African nation faces.

The programme discussions will centre on the government’s objectives to attain fiscal and debt sustainability and on key pillars in the country’s economic recovery programme, he said in a release.

“In line with the need to stabilise the economy and gain traction on its reform agenda, the government as espoused in the economic recovery programme, 2020-2023, and prior cabinet approvals have prioritised having a formal programme with the IMF,’’ he added.

The talks, he said, will also focus on the need to scale up social protection programmes and undertake the much-needed reforms in the agriculture and energy sectors.

Zambia is seeking a financing agreement with the international lender to tackle its battered economy, which is getting worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Nigeria Bourse Drops N51Bn on MPC Rate Adjustment Fears

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The Nigerian Stock Exchange market capitalisation on Friday dropped further by N51 billion on sustained profit taking due to fear of rate adjustment by the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).

The MPC of the Central Bank of Nigeria first meeting of year has been slated for Jan. 25 and Jan. 26.

Specifically, the market capitalisation lost N51 billion or 0.24 per cent to close at N21.448 trillion compared with N21.499 trillion posted on Thursday.

Also, the All-Share which opened at 41,099.15 shed 97.16 points or 0.24 per cent to close at 41,001.99.

Mr Ambrose Omordion, the Chief Operating Officer, InvestData Ltd., attributed the persistent bearish trend to fear of likely rate cut by MPC.

“Historically, February is a dicey month for the stock market, despite being the period for early filers of full year earnings reports.

“The recent slow or profit booking is as a result of positive close of 2020 and fear of rate adjustment at the forthcoming MPC meeting, ahead of earnings reporting season,” Omordion said.

He said that the fear was heightened by the latest FGN Bonds which reopened on adjusted and juicier rates for long tenored bonds.

Omordion noted that the relative stability in the market was due to dominance of domestic institutional investors.

An analysis of the price movement chart indicates that 32 stocks recorded price depreciation, relative to 21 gainers.

Lafarge Africa topped the laggards’ table, dropping N1.95 kobo to close at N26 per share.

MRS trailed with N1.20 kobo to close at N11.20 kobo, while Livestock Feeds dipped 28k to close at N2.52 per share.

NEM Insurance lost 26k to close at N2.43, while United Bank for Africa dipped 25k to close at N8.70 per share.

On the other hand, Flour Mills led the gainers’ table, increasing by 40k to close at N32 per share.

NCR followed with 28k to close at N3.12, while Cutix added 20k to close at N2.26 per share.

Champion Breweries garnered 17k to close at N1.95, while United Bank for Africa improved by 10k to close at N5.55 per share.

Also, the volume of shares traded closed lower as investors bought and sold 591.46 million shares valued at N5.07 billion in 5,787 deals.

This was against 1.12 billion shares valued at N6.39 billion exchanged in 7,404 deals on Thursday.

Transcorp was the most active stock, exchanging 169.28 million shares worth N195.89 million.

Japaul Gold followed with an account of 47.28 million shares valued at N44.95 million, while UBA traded 36.64 million shares worth N321.81 million.

FBN Holdings exchanged 34.31 million shares valued at N250.82 million, while Zenith Bank sold 25.71 million shares worth N680.79 million.

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Chevron Nigeria Denies Responsibility for Bayelsa Oil Spill

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Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) declared on Friday that reported leaks near its operational areas at Funiwa offshore facilities off the Atlantic coast was not from its facilities.

It even pledged to support regulators in tracing the source.

Fishermen around the Atlantic Ocean coastline reported an oil leak suspected to be from the Funiwa fields on Sunday.

Chevron, the operator of the field, has, however, denied responsibility for the leakage.

Esimaje Brikinn, General-Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs, Chevron, in an update, said that the oil firm remained committed to tracing the source of the spill, as part of a joint effort by operators in the area to investigate the leakage.

“The observed spill has been reported by CNL to the appropriate regulatory agencies.

“For spills found within an operator’s operational area, the operator is required to contain the spill, followed by a Joint Investigation Visit by all stakeholders for assessment and further action.

“No spill has been observed within CNL’s operational area, but we are monitoring this incident.

“CNL operates in strict compliance with the relevant laws and regulations governing the Nigerian petroleum industry and remains committed to the safety of people and the environment,’’ he stated.

Chevron and two other companies operate independently near the spill location.

It was gathered that the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) had summoned all the oil firms operating in the shallow waters near Koluama in Bayelsa in a bid to identify the source of the leaks.

Mr Musa Idris, Director-General, NOSDRA, in a telephone interview, said that the spills regulatory agency would dispatch its officials to the incident site.

Meanwhile, Chief Young Fabby, a community leader in Koluama 1, one of the impacted communities said that a joint team of Bayelsa government officials, oil firms operating in the area have scheduled a visit to the spill site for Friday.

“With the Joint Investigation Team visiting today, more facts will emerge. We are expecting the team to commence clean-up and remediation activities though the incident took place sometime around Saturday and oil discharge noticed since Sunday.

“There was high tidal currents at that time and it spread the oil ashore to the mangroves; we are ready to show the investigation team round when they arrive,” the community leader stated.

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