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Eurozone Economy Grows By 0.1% …As Germany Disappoints

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The 16 countries that use the euro barely grew in the fourth quarter, as a modest recovery stalled amid turmoil in financially troubled members such as Greece and a disappointingly flat performance from Germany, the biggest euro economy.

The figures lagged well behind fourth-quarter growth in the United States and raised concerns that Europe could slip back into recession as government stimulus efforts expire and the continent struggles with a government debt crisis in some countries.

Eurozone gross domestic product grew by only 0.1 percent in the last three months of 2009 from the previous three-month period, EU statistics agency Eurostat said Friday.

Export powerhouse Germany turned in zero growth as consumption levels remained weak, reinforcing analysts’ thinking that sustained growth in Europe will have to wait until household spending picks up decisively.

The eurozone growth figure fell short of expectations for a 0.4 percent increase and stoked worries the eurozone may dip back into recession.

The euro took a further battering for the euro on currency markets. By late morning London time, the euro was trading at near nine-month lows $1.3535, a full cent lower than where it was when the German figures came out.

‘On Friday, data shows that the recovery in the euro area is a long way off from being self-sustained,” said Jorg Radeke, an economist at the Centre for Economic and Business Research.

The third quarter increase of 0.4 percent had encouraged hopes that the eurozone recoveiy wuulu be solid, especially as U.S. growth spiked sharply higher, it was up a quarterly 1.4 percent -­during the period and China continues to grow strongly.

However, the recovery in the third quarter now appears likely to have been due to temporary factors like government spending boosts, a build-up in inventory levels and car scrappage schemes that pay people to trade in old cars, particularly in Germany.

A real concern in the markets now is that upcoming austerity programs in places like Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland will continue to depress activity in those countries and further undermine the overall eurozone recovery.

“Given the state of the public finances across many euro member states, fiscal tightening may be too early in many of those countries struggling to maintain growth,” said Radeke from the Centre for Business and Economic Research.

The Eurostat figures clearly showed that the countries most affected by the debt crisis are struggling.

Greece, which is in the midst of a debt crisis that made EU leaders to pledge support on Thursday, saw its output shrink by 0.8 percent. Portugal’s output was unchanged following two solid quarterly increases, and Spain’s economy contracted by a further 0.1 percent as it continues to suffer from its property market collapse and near 20 percent unemployment levels.

The third quarter recovery in Italy also proved to be short-lived as the eurozone’s third largest economy shrank by 0.2 percent during the period.

France, the eurozone’s second-largest economy, appears to have been the main reason behind the overall rise in the fourth quarter in the eurozone, as it posted a respectable 0.6 percent increase in output.

The fourth quarter figures cap a miserable economic year — for 2009 as a whole, the eurozone economy, which includes around 330 million people, contracted by a massive 4 percent.

Though most economists as well as the European Central Bank expect growth this year, it’s unlikely to be remarkable, especially as there are signs of underlying weakness in France — much of the growth there in the fourth quarter was due to car sales, which were boosted by the upcoming scaling back of the car scrappage scheme at the end of the year.

“An anaemic core and a deflating periphery point to weak eurozone GDP growth this year,” said Michael Taylor, an economist at Lombard Street Research.

As if further proof were needed that the euro area recovery is not going to plan, separate Eurostat figures showed that industrial production plunged 1.7 percent in December from the previous month.

The wider 27-country ED, which includes non-euro members such as Britain and Sweden as well as east European countries including Poland and Hungary, saw fourth quarter GDP rise by 0.1 percent, the same as the eurozone.

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Stakeholders Meet To Assess Nigeria’s Preparedness For AFCFTA

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Stakeholders are expected to converge in Lagos today to take a look at the Nigeria’s preparedness to maximize the gains of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). 
The Tide learnt that stakeholders will be converging at the instance of a popular online newspaper, Primetime Reporters, to assess the progress made so far by the Federal Government through the National Action Committee on AfCFTA agreement.
The event which is the Third Annual Lecture and Awards of the online medium has as its theme: “Assessing Nigeria’s Preparedness to Maximize the Gains of AfCFTA.” 
The event will also witness conferment of awards on eight eminent Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in various fields of human endeavours.
The Managing Director/Editor-In-Chief of Primetime Reporters, Mr. Saint Augustine Nwadinamuo, made this known in a statement made available to The Tide in Lagos on Monday.
According to him, the event will hold at the National Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Kofo Abayomi Street, Victoria Island, Lagos beginning from 10.00am.
Nwadinamuo said that the event would be chaired by a renowned legal practitioner, Barr. Osuala Emmanuel Nwagbara of the Maritime and Commercial Law Partners, Lagos, while the Director General, Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Muda Yusuf, would be the lead paper presenter.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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EFCC Nabs 419 Kingpin Over N250m Fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has arrested a leader of a deadly 419 syndicate, Abayomi Kamaldeen Alaka (a.k.a Awise) over an alleged attempt to swindle an innocent Nigerian of N250 million. 
The Tide learnt that the syndicate operates from a shrine at Ashipa Town, near Abeokuta, Ogun State.
According to a statement made available to The Tide in Lagos on Sunday, by the EFCC, Awise’s arrest followed a petition by his victim, Juliet Bright who lost N250m to the fraudster after she was tricked to provide money for sacrifices and invocations to heal her of an ailment.
The statement said Bright was introduced to Alaka by one Akinola Bukola Augustina (a.ka. Iya Osun) whom she met on Facebook in the course of her search for solutions to her health challenge. 
What drew her to Augustina was the latter’s post under the name, Osunbukola Olamitutu Spriritual Healing Centre.
 Once Bright contacted Augustina, the latter promised to heal her if she could pay N16 million. 
The victim paid the money through an Access Bank account belonging to one Mohammed Sani, who later turned out to be a Bureau De Change Operator.
After paying the money without receiving healing, Augustina transferred the victim to other members of the syndicate, notably Awise. 
Bright revealed that she met Awise at his shrine in Ashipa Town and was hypnotized and subsequently transferred various sum through bank accounts and in cash to the suspect and his syndicate members, until she lost N250 million to them.
Despite all the monies collected from her, her health conditions has never improved.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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Expert Wants Farmers To Grow Plant Produce For Export

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An expert in Quarantine Agriculture, Dr Vincent Ozuru, has advised Nigerian farmers to give more attention to growing plants produce that could be exported.
He said that plant like the hibiscus, popularly known as Zobo is on high demand in some countries around the world, today.
Ozuru who gave the advice while speaking to aviation correspondents at Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, noted that some plants produce, particularly hibiscus, had yielded huge revenue to the Federal Government through export.
According to him, Nigeria exported about 1,983 containers of hibiscus to Mexico alone in 2017 and earned $35 million within nine months of that year.
The agricultural quarantine expert explained that the export of the plant had a setback as a result of storage pest discovered by the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service in some consignments.
“The issue has now been taken care of and the export is resuming again, and all matters have been resolved with the stakeholders across the value chain.
“Mexico is the largest importer of Nigerian hibiscus, and our farmers should brace up to the challenge.
“The good news is that Nigeria has a vast growing belt in hibiscus, and the harvest is available all year round.
“We need to take advantage of this opportunity to earn foreign exchange for ourselves and for the country at large, even with the commitment of the present administration to diversify the economy”, he said.
Ozuru called on Nigerian farmers to show more commitment to the growing of export produce and also endeavor to get ready information on it in order to increase their income.

By: Corlins Walter

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