The facilitation of trade is important for the development of any economy in today’s world. According to the World Trade Organization (“WTO”), trade facilitation involves the simplification, modernization and harmonization of export and import processes and is important for the world’s trading system. For the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, whether in relation to exports or imports, trade facilitation benefits all countries by allowing better access for businesses; makes countries attractive for foreign investments and helps small and medium sized enterprises to participate in trade.
In view of the importance of trade facilitation, the WTO members at the 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference concluded negotiations on the Trade Facilitation Agreement (“TFA”). The TFA came into force on 22 February 2017 and, inter alia, provides for measures to ensure effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. Nigeria ratified the TFA in 2017 and has since taken diverse steps and introduced policies aimed at improving the Nigerian business environment.
In furtherance of its commitment to facilitate the ease of doing business in Nigeria, the Trade and Exchange Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria (“CBN”) recently released a circular dated 30 August 2019 informing all authorised dealers, the Nigeria Customs Service and the general public, that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (“NAFDAC”) has integrated its e-Permit for NAFDAC regulated products with e-Form ‘M’ on the Nigeria Trade Portal for products with non-overlapping HS codes with the Standards Organization of Nigeria. In the circular, the CBN noted that 9 September 2019 is the commencement date for the use of NAFDAC’s e-Permit on the Nigeria Trade Portal for processing the e-Form ‘M’.
To ensure the smooth transition to electronic import permits, on 1 September 2019, NAFDAC released a statement directing holders of valid NAFDAC registration certificates and other import documents that are not in electronic formats, to visit https://trade.gov.ng/nafdac and click NAFDAC e-License for digitization of such documents. NAFDAC explained that to utilize the e-Permits for the processing of Form ‘M’ for NAFDAC regulated products, clients would be required to input their Approval Reference Code stated on their NAFDAC e-Permits, which would be auto-verified and accepted by the Form ‘M’ platform.
The integration of NAFDAC e-Permit with the e-Form ‘M’ on the Nigerian Trade Portal must be commended as it will simplify the approval process for importation of NAFDAC regulated products and reduce the operating costs for businesses involved in the importation and sale of such products.
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