Agusto & Co Forecasts $22bn Diaspora Remittances for Nigeria in 2021 Pan-African credit rating agency, Agusto & Co has projected that Nigeria’s diaspora remittances will reach $22 billion by 2021, representing a year-on-year (y-o-y) rise of five per cent. The Lagos-based firm stated this in its “2021 Nigeria Diaspora Remittance Report & Survey,” presented to members of the public. The report anticipated a further y-o-y rise of two per cent in remittances inflow to $22.5 billion by 2022. According to the report, Nigeria’s diaspora remittances dropped by 12 per cent to $21 billion in 2020, from about $23.8 billion the prior year. Head of Research at Agusto Consulting, Jimi Ogbobine, while speaking during a webinar on the report, explained that the Nigerian diaspora remittances is still an under-researched subject despite its strong bankability credentials. Apapa Traffic Gridlock May Hurt AfCFTA’s Gains, Operators Warn Some members of the organised private sector (OPS) have decried the lack of political will to address the perennial traffic congestion around the Apapa ports, saying the gridlock could hurt the expected gains from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. Traffic has worsened in Apapa and its environs in the past few weeks following the disruption of the electronic call-up system (ETO) introduced about two months ago by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) with the support of the Lagos State Government to ensure free flow of vehicular movements. Read Also: Inflation to hit 18.7% in April on insecurity, dollar shortage But the Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf, told journalists yesterday that, “if the Apapa traffic gridlock continues, our international trade process stands the risk of being completely paralysed. “The Apapa corridor accounts for an estimated 70 per cent of international merchandise trade- imports and exports. Therefore, this portends disturbing signals for the outlook for Nigeria’s participation in the AFCFTA. It is impossible to undertake any meaningful trade without an efficient maritime logistics chain.” N120b petrol subsidy to double as CBN adjusts exchange rate As the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) signals a subtle harmonisation of exchange rates with the removal of N379/$1 official rate from its website, all is set for labour unions to lock horns with the Federal Government on petrol subsidy removal. The return of subsidy have posed new challenges for the country in terms of discrepancies in the volume of daily consumed fuel about to be worsened by the apex bank’s adoption of the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window rate, pushing subsidy claims above N120 billion every month. Investors threaten to divest over free trade zones reform Investors in the Nigeria free trade zones (FTZs) have threatened to divest from the zones over a proposed reform by the federal ministry of industry, trade and investment (FMITI). This is contained in a recent statement signed by Yusufu Abdullahi, director of the Snake Island Integrated Free Zone, Lagos, on behalf of the investors. Free trade zones are areas in which businesses are exempted from the normal regime applicable in Nigeria, however, the government expects such companies to boost national exports, create jobs and help in diversifying the country’s economy by bringing in new activities. Two bodies were established by the federal government for effective management of the general and specialised free trade zones, which are the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) and the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) located at Onne Port in Rivers state. According to the statement, the move comes as the FMITI had proposed to transfer supervision of such private sector investment from NEPZA to OGFZA. The investors described the proposed reform as “a ploy to destroy multi-million naira private investment in the free zones”. They explained that FMITI had directed NEPZA to transfer five selected free zones (Dangote Industries Free Zone, LADOL Free Zone, Snake Island Integrated Free Zone, Tomato Industrial Park, and Olokola Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone) regulated by the authority to OGFZA. $1.24bn spent on food imports despite Buhari’s forex ban Food products imports gobbled up $1.24bn of the foreign exchange supplied by the Central Bank of Nigeria from October 2020 to March 2021 despite the ban directive from President Muhammadu Buhari. The foreign exchange used for the importation of food products into Nigeria more than doubled in the fourth quarter of last year as against the previous quarter, during which Buhari directed the CBN to stop issuing forex for food and fertiliser imports. Buhari gave the directive to the CBN in September at a meeting of the National Food Security Council at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, saying that firms that were bent on importing food should source their forex elsewhere. “Nobody importing food should be given money,” he was quoted as saying in a statement from the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu. The forex used for food products imports, however, rose from $121.13m in September to $198.43m in October, $204.76m in November and $305.88m in December, according to the CBN data on sectoral utilisation for transactions valid for forex. The amount of forex used for the importation of food production into the country surged by 118.60 per cent to $709.07m in Q4 2020 from $324.37m in Q3. Food product imports gobbled up $582.38m forex in the first quarter of this year, compared to $470.01m in Q1 2020, the CBN data showed.