Tariff: Nigerian export goods trapped at Seme border

There are indications that goods belonging to Nigerian manufacturers meant for export are currently trapped at Seme border due to non-payment of stipulated tariff by the owners. The most affected are goods meant for other neighbouring countries like Togo, Ghana and others.

It was learnt that the sudden decision by Benin Republic government to collect full tariff on the goods led to the exporters halting their movement temporarily. Although the tariff is part of agreement within the region, some observers have, however, described the development as flouting ECOWAS protocols of free movement of goods and service and recent multilateral trade agreement on AfCFTA. New Telegraph’s investigation showed that it was only goods specifically meant for Benin Republic that are allowed to enter after full import duty payment.

It was also gathered from local exporters under the aegis of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Export Group (MANEG) who were mostly affected with some of their trucks with goods worth millions of naira stuck at the border. The situation has directly affected West African importers from other neighbouring countries, who ordered goods from Nigeria. MANEG is raising the alarm that the new twist could be linked to retaliation by the Benin Republic government on Nigeria’s decision to have its borders remain partially closed and total ban on importation of rice. It would be recalled that for over a year, the Federal Government shut the country’s land borders due to alleged violation of ECOWAS protocols by neighbouring countries.

The border closure was aimed at stemming the tide of smuggling, illicit migration, arms banditry, drug trafficking and proliferation of light weapons. In addition, the closure was also to strengthen demand for some local products, but it impacted negatively on others as many businesses could not import from or export to the West and Central African market. New Telegraph learnt from Borderless Campaign that the Benin Republic government was retaliating against Nigeria over Nigerian government’s ban on foreign rice, a situation that has severely affected Benin Republic’s revenue generation and gross domestic product as many of their warehouses are stocked with unsold rice since Nigeria was their main targets for rice controlled by the Chinese, Indians, Lebanese, Thailand.

Speaking to New Telegraph, MANEG Chairman, Other African Countries and Export Manager for Aarti Steel (Nigeria) Limited, Imokhai Ehimigbai, confirmed the story, saying that many trucks containing goods of Nigerian companies are on the roads at Seme border over the insistence of Benin Republic Government to collect full tariff on goods coming from Nigeria to other WA countries. Ehimigbai explained that Nigerian companies and that of West African importers’ goods were stuck, which is not good for business at the moment. He also said this new move would further affect the competitiveness of Nigerian goods in neighbouring countries as they won’t be able to compete. In addition, the expert explained that Nigerian companies would suffer local contract violation as they won’t be able to meet trade agreements for goods ordered by foreign clients or partners. Also, the MANEG chieftain hinted that this would also lead to high volume of unsold goods in the warehouses when such goods are returned undelivered because of the full levy.

He said: “Though am not involved, but their goods are stucked in border right now, only goods going to Benin Republic can go straight. You know, most of the exports from this ECOWAS routes passe through Seme border; that is most of the legal exports that is going by roads. “WiththispolicybyBeninRepublic, what they are saying is that goods that are leaving Benin Republic, the importers will have to pay import duty full to Benin Republic Government when the destination of such goods or consignments is not Benin Republic. “For instance, maybe my goods are going to Ghana, for me to pass Benin Republic by road, I have to pay import duty full to Benin Republic Government. And you know then that ECOWAS protocol encourages free movement of goods and service because ECOWAS protocol does not even ask for duty in the first instance.

“And for me, specially looking at this move is a slap on Nigeria. Why is it so? Most of the goods from West African countries originate from Nigeria.” On the effect on Nigerian competitiveness in West Africa, Ehimigbai said: “We can’t even compete favourably because an importer from Togo, who import from Nigeria after paying duty to Benin Republic government, gets to Togo and also pay other tariffs again, so he can not sell.” “Let me tell you how it all started. You remember when we were trying to sanitise our borders, especially with Benin Republic, there was this total ban on foreign rice importation. “That policy from Nigeria affected them negatively because I am very much aware from the months of June, July, if you go to Benin Republic about10 years ago looking for a warehouse, you cannot get because the warehouses were taken over by Chinese, Indians and Lebanese for rice brought from Thailand meant for Nigeria.




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