Effects of Closing The SEME Border


Tuesday, October 15, 2019 / 10:56 AM / By Coronation Research / Header Image Credit: Sahara Reporters


Of all recent government policies the recent closure of the border with the Republic of Benin to goods is having the most immediate effects on prices. These will undoubtedly hit consumers' pockets and may come through in upcoming inflation data. At the same time there may be positive effects of local rice and poultry production.



During September the published FX reserves (three-month moving average) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) fell at an average of US$400.0m per week, a trend which only slowed slightly in the first week of October and which would set FX reserves to reach US$37.1bn by year-end. We do not think the CBN will tolerate this and we think that it will encourage foreign portfolio investment (FPI) into Naira fixed income securities with interest rates set perhaps as much as 450 basis points (bps) above inflation, with the potential to trend down to a spread of 350bps over inflation if FPI picks up over the coming weeks.


Bonds & T-bills

The yield on a Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) Naira bond with 10 years to maturity fell by 6bps to 14.32%, and at 3 years fell by 64bps to 13.73% last week. The yield on a 364-day T-bill fell by 48bps to 14.30%. The yield on a T-bill with 3 months to maturity fell by 122bps to 11.80%.


There was a surplus of liquidity in the Naira fixed income markets last week where approximately N1.0 trillion (US$2.8bn) was bid for the CBN's offer of N300bn at it's open market operation (OMO) auction. The yield achieved in the auction was 15.40% but secondary market yields fell much lower (see above). Our sense is that the CBN will not want to see primary market rates trend below 14.50% over the coming weeks, at least until it becomes comfortable with the level of foreign portfolio investment (FPI).



The price of Brent rose by 3.67% last week to US$60.51/bbl. The average price, year-to-date, is US$64.51/bbl, 10.01% lower than the average of US$71.69/bbl in 2018, but 17.84% higher than the US$54.75/bbl average seen in 2017.


The International Energy Agency (IEA) has again cut its global oil demand forecast growth by 65,000 bpd to 1.0 million barrels per day (mbpd) in 2019 and by 105,000 bpd to 1.2mbpd in 2020. September's attack on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities dropped global oil supply in September by 1.5mbpd to 99.3mbpd, which is less than originally feared. The downtrend in demand threatens oil prices, in our view. The demand narrative also gives room for the possibility of further cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).



The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) All-Share Index fell by 1.68% last week, pushing the year-to-date return to negative 15.58%. Last week Forte Oil (+8.11%), Mobil Nigeria (+5.64%) and CCNN (+2.70%) closed positive while Guinness Nigeria (-10.79%), PZ Cussons Nigeria (-10.00%) and Nigerian Breweries (-8.64%) fell.

The NSE last week announced an amendment to its rules on pricing methods. The NSE has raised the number of shares that must be traded, in various classes of equity, in order to effect a change in published price. This is in addition to the 10% cap on daily price movements, all in a bid to curb price volatility.


Effects of closing the Seme border

Coronation Research  makes routine monthly rounds to local markets to track prices of Home, Personal & Care (HPC) and food items in major markets within the Lagos environs - a continuation of a study which informed our conclusions in our 20 May 2019 publication: Nigerian Consumer Report: Power to the Price Point.


On 13 August 2019, the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) closed Seme border, the major border with the Republic of Benin, without formal notice. The Seme border is one of the busiest in the country and is a major route for the importation of food items such as rice, chicken, and turkey.


In the course of our research, it was observed that prices for some food items increased significantly, especially rice - a major staple in the average Nigerian food basket.  A 25kg bag of imported (usually from Thailand) rice sold for N6,500 in July 2019, before the closure of the border. However, the same quantity now sells for N14,000, or 2.15x as much, at 10 October 2019. We also note that one of the major supermarkets had only locally produced, and not imported, rice on display.


The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN), in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has tried to boost local production of rice. However, locally produced rice is yet to match local demand standards in terms of quality and quantity, in our view.


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Other imported items such as frozen turkey also recorded significant price increases within the last two months. One kilogram of frozen turkey sold for N2,200 at 11 October 2019, a 1.7x increase since at July 2019. Another notable observation during the exercise was an increase in the prices of perceived complimentary food items such as beans, tomatoes and other vegetables premised on the closure of the border.


The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) does not disclose the weighting of food items such as rice in the inflation food basket. However, should the ongoing closure of borders across the nation persist, we believe that this will have an adverse effect on subsequent inflation readings. September 2019's Inflation print is due this week.


On the positive side the price increases may give Nigerian producers improved economics, thus stimulating production. There is a good chance, in our view, of a boost to the agricultural sub-sector of GDP.


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1.      Border Closure Hitting The Price of Rice - CSL Research, October 04, 2019 

2.     Border Closures May Only Offer Temporary Subsidy Reprieve - CardinalStone Research, October 11, 2019  

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Other Reports From Coronation Research

  1. Nigerian Banks Improve NPLs Post-recession
  2. Update on Naira Interest Rate and Foreign Exchange
  3. Coronation Research Releases Outlook for Insurance Sector - From Lagoon To The Blue Ocean
  4. Market Interest Rates Back Up - Coronation Research
  5. Fixed Income Market Sees Growing Liquidity - Coronation Research
  6. Coronation Research Issues Weekly Update as Equity Market Revives
  7. Coronation Research Issues 2019 Economic Outlook for Nigeria; A Tale of Two Halves


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