Importers are to face serious financial pressure to clear their goods at the port as the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), has again adjusted the exchange rate for cargo clearing at the port from N783.174 per dollar to N952 per dollar, according to information obtained from the Customs official website.
This adjustment in FX rate for cargo clearing at the port, which is coming up few weeks to the Christmas and New Year celebrations, according to port users, would have huge implications on the prices of imported goods already being pressured by surging inflation.
It is the third exchange rate adjustment the Maritime industry is witnessing six months after the Customs Service started the implementation of the floating foreign exchange rate regime by the Central Bank of Nigeria in July and the fourth since the coming into power of the new government.
The Customs had on June 24, 2023 adjusted the exchange rate from N422.30/$ to N589/$; on July 6, 2023 it was adjusted to N770.88/$; on November 14, 2023, it was adjusted to N783.174/$ and now, it has been adjusted to N951.941/$.
BusinessDay understands that the exchange rate was adjustment on Thursday by Customs on the instructions of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and it is expected to take immediate effect.
Industry analysts said the new Customs exchange rate means there would be an increase in import duty payable by importers to the Customs.
They expressed concern that the N194 increment, would not only result in tariff increase but would also force many cargo owners to abandon their goods at the ports.
Confirming this, Onome Monije, public relations officer, Tin-Can Island chapter of the Association of Nigerian Licenced Customs Agents (ANLCA), told newsmen that importers and their agents might experience a bleak Christmas owing to the high tariff for clearing goods at the port.
Monije said importers would pay more for cargo clearance at the seaports.
She said the increment would affect both vehicle and containerised goods, advising clearing agents to engage their principals to forestall disagreement.
“The Federal Government has increased the dollar exchange rate, from N422.30 to N589.45 then to N770.88, in November, it was moved to N783.174 now, we are at N951.941 to a dollar.
“What it implies in simple terms is that, if clearing agents have a Debit Note that has not been paid on the system or Pre-Arrival Assessment Results (PAAR) or that Customs has given you the value and you have not captured, the upward adjustment has affected you directly,” she said.
According to her, Nigerian shippers are just believing that maybe with time, the exchange rate will decline.
She said importers would no longer finding the high tariff easy because “once there is a change in the portal, there is nothing anybody can do about it.”
She explained that only clearing agents that had done capturing of their consignment would pay with the old rate.
On his part, Tony Anakebe, a Licensed Customs Agent, told BusinessDay there would be an automatic increase in import duty payable by importers and their clearing agents into the Customs coffers.
According to him, the adjustment will also impact the market prices of goods as well due to high Customs tariffs.
He said that the new development would further drive inflation on the upward trend as the importer would always peg the price of the finished goods at the rate that would cover all their costs.