The Nigeria Customs Service has expressed concern over a drastic drop in volume of imports into Nigeria through Benin Republic due to what it described as hostile trade policy introduced by the French speaking country.
The trade policy put in place by the government of Benin Republic involves multiple duties on goods transiting through the country from other west Africa nations to Nigeria.
For example, in 2021, the government of Benin Republic imposed new import duty of CFA9 million (N6.5 million) per transit truck on Nigeria-bound cargoes transiting through the country.
Speaking at a press conference at Seme border on Thursday, Controller, Seme Area Command, NCS, Comptroller Dera Nnadi said as a result of the hostile trade policy, the command recorded only 5 declarations of import with a total of N13,383,104 paid as duty within a period of 13 days.
He said though the command is still recovering from the effect of border closure as traders are yet to return after the reopening to begin their businesses, it facilitated the movement of 70 trucks with fees amounting to N 1, 414, 665.01 collected within the review period.
He added that there were 81 baggage declarations with duty amounting to N 4, 520, 722.
He said items imported under the arrangement include food products and beverages produced within the sub-region.
“The dearth in import is as a result of the trade policy introduced by Republic of Benin which traders and indeed the Service consider hostile to Nigeria,”
Under export, Comptroller Nnadi said the command facilitated 122 trucks bearing 3,770.49 metric tons of made in Nigeria cargo with Free On Board value of N523.6 million and National Export Supervision Scheme Fes of N2.6 million.
The Customs boss urged traders to take full advantage of the 2022 fiscal Policy measures by the Federal Ministry of Finance, which lifted the ban on export of goods imported into Nigeria hitherto prohibited under item 8 Schedule 6 of the Common External Tariff to optimise the opportunities offered by the policy.
“However, this is subject to the exporters obtaining approval from the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and payment of 2.5 per cent export surcharge of the present value of the goods,” he said.
Other source of revenue for the command are fees collected from the auction sales of seized items especially petroleum products and other perishable items.
“It is worthy of note that the major source of revenue of the Command (import/export) have not been enhanced since the opening of the land borders as directed by the Federal Government of Nigeria as the traders are still bracing with the challenges of having been out of business for over two years,” he said.
Speaking on the non-functional scanners and weighbridge at the Seme Border post, the Customs boss stated that his predecessor had made several interventions on the issue, even as he assured that the challenge will be communicated to the Customs management and the Ministry of Finance.