E-invoicing: Customs Debunks Allegation Of Accepting CBN’s Benchmark For Import, Export Trade

R_L CGC Col. Hammed Ali and ACG Kaycee Ekekezie

By Sandra Chukwunyere

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has debunked the use of benchmark valuation method as proposed by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) on the basis that it will result in disputes, delay in cargo clearing and uncertainties at ports.

In a statement by the Public Relations Officer of Customs, DC Timi Bomodi, the policy will also negate the aim of the World Trade Orgainsation (WTO) Agreement on Customs Valuation (ACV).

The Central Bank introduced the evaluator to cut foreign exchange spendings for fraudulent or inflated transactions.

The new policy ensures that imports and exports activities with unit prices that are more than 2.5 per cent of the verified global checkmate prices would be queried and will not be denied successful completion of either Form M or Form NXP, according to a circular signed by the Director, Trade and Exchange Department, Dr. O. S. Nnaji.

The Customs Service while dismissing the report that it has adopted the e-evaluator said it is restricted by international treaties which it is a signatory to.

Customs said, “The practice world over is to domicile adjudication on Customs values for import and export within the Customs administration of every country.

“The NCS, undoubtedly, is alive to its statutory functions and has a vibrant Valuation Unit under the Tariff and Trade Department whose roles among others includes
the proper interpretation of WCO/WTO rules and agreements concerning the valuation of goods.

“Nigeria being a member of the World Customs Organization (WCO), World Trade Organization (WTO) and also signatory to international trade treaties, including Article VII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade is constrained to abide by the principles contained therein.”

The policy which took effect February 1, 2022, was introduced by the CBN following the country’s foreign exchange scarcity.

Stakeholders and think-tanks like the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprises had kicked against the policy.

“We wish to state that this (the report) is incorrect. The Service still stands by its earlier submissions on the matter, as was clearly communicated to the House of Representatives Joint Committee on Customs and Excise, Banking and Currencies on 03 March 2022,” said the NCS.

The NCS said it was first notified of the policy in a letter dated 8 July 2021.

It said based on global convention (Article VII), the value for customs purposes of imported/exported goods should be based on the actual value paid or payable for them.

NCS explained, “This agreement also prescribes five other methods for arriving at Customs value where the transaction value is unacceptable.

“They are the transaction value of identical goods, the transaction value of similar goods, deductive value method, computed value method, and fallback method, applied sequentially.

“The NCS as a government agency aligns with the WTO Agreement on Customs Valuation (ACV) as it aims for a fair, uniform and neutral system for the valuation of goods for Customs purposes.

“This conforms to commercial realities, and outlaws the use of assumed values for customs purposes. It is our view that the use of benchmarking in valuation as proposed by the CBN policy will negate the aim of the ACV and result in disputes, delays and uncertainties.” he added

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