‘Ban on importation of vehicles through land contravenes global best practices’
The National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), has said the restriction of vehicle importation through the land borders came at a very short notice, and contravenes the convention and global best practice on reasonable information across the international community, carrier, shippers, and traders.
The group in a petition to the Presidency, listed several implications of the ban on the economy, and therefore appealed for a 90 days extension in order to allow importers clear the numerous vehicles stranded across the borders.
The petition, obtained by The Guardian, argued that the ban order of vehicles through the land border is a contravention of WTO Articles X on publication and application of trade regulations. This stipulates that “each contracting party shall provide opportunities and an appropriate time period to traders and other interested parties to comment on the proposed introduction or amendment of laws and regulations of general application related to the movement, release, and restriction of transit goods.”
According to the WTO convention, trade regulations and amendments with regard to restriction and reversal of Fiscal Policy on Trade, must be subject to process of consultation by trading public and transparency in the timing, so as to accommodate the challenges that will be associated with the directive/regulation.
The group therefore noted that vehicles held up at the borders are mostly legitimate goods that were legally processed from the land borders as authorised under the Federal Government import regime, which import duty is assessed and paid into the Government’s Account legally.
NCMDLCA said globally, grace period is extended due to challenges associated with the restrictions and structural changes that affect import and export fiscal policy measures.
They include the need to look at the commitment of payment and transaction entered into by the buyer/seller months ahead of the Land border ban that are now held up. There is also the need to look at the date and country of shipment of the vehicles, relating to distance i.e. Far-East Country e.g. China, USA, Canada, Russia, Singapore, UK and others under various routes that will take months to arrive the transit port.
Besides, it noted that other factors such as the late arrival of the carrying vessel as a result of transshipments from larger vessels to feeder vessel, and transit procedure to the boarder due to Nigeria’s port draft should also be considered.
Others are tramp vessel carriages from port to port without advertised date; transfer process from the wet port to various land borders across Nigeria that legally process, assess and collect legitimate duties on the vehicles. Furthermore, the limited time of information and the restriction of information to the trading public and personal vehicles that were shipped without information on the restriction.
The Customs agents indicated that the global practice of grace period was adopted by the Federal Ministry of Finance in Circular BD.1237/s.403/PT./16 & BD.12237/s.403T.1/66 for 90 days grace period, which resolved the challenges.
According to the group, the vehicles stranded at the borders are not in Nigerian territory but are Nigerian assets owned by Nigerians abroad and trading community. Such owners had worked and sent such vehicles to their family members, and decided to use the Land Border, which is a legal entry point for the process and assessment of goods, due to high cost of clearance in Nigerian ports.
“Such action will greatly affect the Nigerians abroad and the trading community that will loose the vehicles to neighbouring states, as such vehicles went through the transit process to the border for the normal payment of import duty and to conclude the customs formalities, which cannot be reshipped back to Nigeria as freight payment and transit procedure has been concluded,” it stated.
NCMDLCAfurther stressed the need to urgently review the Auto policy to address the challenges associated with its implementation till date.
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