Hike in Customs Duty: NAGAFF Scribe Tasks CRFFN to Champion Trade Incentives

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By DAPO OLAWUNI

Following the recent increases in the Customs duty exchange rate by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) National Secretary of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Mr Kingsley Igwe has charged the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) to champion trade incentives that would cushion the effect of the increases on import and export businesses.

NAGAFF National Secretary, Kingsley Igwe

Igwe in an exclusive chat with DAILY TREND in Lagos on Monday noted that there are various international treaties and agreements which Nigeria is violating, and which ordinarily could bring down the cost of doing business at the port.

The NAGAFF Scribe said that in order to save Nigeria’s dying economy and port business, the CRFFN should as a matter of urgency enter an engagement with the Presidency, as well as CBN and the Customs on how to reverse some anti-trade policies, especially the hike in customs Duty.

He said “The CRFFN can do more engagements in this sense because the Freight Forwarders may be incapacitated in trying to get those assigned to talk about it, the authorities would not listen to us or pay attention.

“But the CRFFN is at par with these agencies at the government level, and I believe that a simple letter from CRFFN to the presidency would go a long way, owing to the fact that CRFFN has Governing Council members who are also recognised by the Ministry. With that push, there would be attempt to listen to them.

“Sometimes, you also find out that some of these things are actually anti-trade facilitation, an argument can be put forward by the CRFFN in the sense that such rules or laws that are being passed would impact every commodity in the market, it affects the economy and the purchasing power of the common man.

“Even in the World Trade Organisation Trade Facilitation Agreement, it negates the implementation method of our foreign exchange hike for Customs duty”

Citing relevant sections of the World Trade Organisation agreements, the NAGAFF National Secretary argued that before any such policies like hike in in customs duty comes up, it is required of member countries to publish a notice to that effect within three months and allow for comments and reactions before implementation.

“This is the procedure for trade facilitation agreement so that everyone would have been aware.
But in this case, we just woke up overnight and found out that duty has been increased.

“When the CRFFN championships this, the government is also sensitive to some of these global treaties, so they would be able to listen and do something about it.

“Another question is, if the customs exchange rate is being raised, why is the customs not serious about clearing consignments based on trade agreements?

“What this means is that, if Nigeria has a trade agreement with the US and ordinarily, originating goods have been gazetted to enjoy tariff relief up to about 5% instead of 40%, why is our Customs Service not respecting such agreements, why are we still using the CET which is ECOWAS?
The CET place commodities on a very high tariff if they are not originating within the region.

“If the customs is serious about revenue generation, these measures would even generate revenue more, because common principle of economics says the lower the price, the higher the demand, people would do business more when they know that their customs charges is not so high, they can do more businesses and make profit, this would make trade to flow” he stated

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