US, Nigeria In Talks On Currency Control, Devaluation At US Nuclear Summit

There are strong possibilities that the United Stat of America and Nigerian government will engage in side-talks over currency control and devaluation of the Nigerian currency- the naira at the nuclear summit.
Nigerian President Mohammadu Buhari, alongside his central bank governor, Godwin Emefilie have vowed never to devalue the naira.
But report said, the United States government is ready for talk with its Nigerian counterpart on the need to make the naira exchange rate flexible in a bold move to increase economic activities in Africa’s biggest economy.
President Muhammadu Buhari is slated to travel to the US on Wednesday to join other world leaders on discussion on Nuclear, but American officials are willing to take advantage of the summit to discuss other economic related issue with the Nigerian leader.
Nigeria’s central bank had pegged the local currency at a fixed rate of 197 to the dollar since last year February in the wake of falling global crude oil prices, which has slashed more than half foreign exchange revenue accruing to the West African country.
However global investors, targeting the Africa’s biggest crude producer as investment haven have persistently called for the devaluation of the naira and the open up of the forex market by the government to ease transactions.
President Buhari has for the umpteen time submitted that he was not ready to devalue the naira, hinging his argument on the fact that Nigeria is an import dependant country and as such it could not benefit the common man on the street to devalue the currency.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, had told an audience at the U.S. Institute of Peace this week that Nigeria should ensure that the value of the naira currency versus the U.S. dollar was “more realistic.”
She said the US would press Nigeria in talks this week to adopt a more flexible foreign exchange rate to boost growth and investment in Africa’s largest economy.
“While most people complain about the possibility of there being devaluation, people are already operating on a devalued currency, and the only people who are not, are people who are doing it officially,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
“Our recommendation is, and we will have discussions about it … that they should look at the exchange rate and try to make the exchange rate more realistic to what the value of the naira is to the dollar,” she added.
She spoke before talks in Washington to be launched by Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday and which will focus on Nigeria’s economy, security and development.
Nigeria faces its worst economic crisis in decades as the falling price of oil has slashed revenues, prompting the central bank to peg the currency and introduce curbs to protect foreign exchange reserves, which have fallen to an 11-year low.
Some members of Nigeria’s central bank monetary policy committee have said the naira should be devalued.
Thomas-Greenfield said the parallel currency market in Nigeria was “alive and well,” warning that a rigid exchange rate, capital controls and import bans could undermine President Buhari’s efforts to expand economic growth and fight corruption. Buhari has rejected the idea of devaluing the naira.
“Capital controls that limit access to foreign exchange rewards insiders and undermines the stated goals of Nigeria to increase domestic production because both Nigerian and expat investors alike tell us many businesses are unable to obtain the capital to purchase badly needed intermediate goods,” she said.
The naira trades some 40 percent below the official rate on the black market versus the dollar. The central bank last year pegged the exchange rate to curb speculative demand for the dollar and conserve foreign exchange reserves after it restricted access to hard currency for imports of certain items, frustrating businesses.
The International Monetary Fund called on Nigeria to lift the curbs and let the naira reflect market forces more closely, as the restrictions have significantly affected the private sector.

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