An indigenous firm, International Trade Advisory Limited (ITASL), has flagged off its services at the nation’s ports, as part of efforts to tackle the myriads of challenges in import/export trade and stall revenue loss by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
The initiative, the company said, is to provide world class advisory services for importers, exporters, manufacturers and multinationals on Customs processes and procedures with a view to reduce delays in cargo clearance at the ports.
Speaking at a press briefing to announce the initiative in Lagos on Wednesday, principal consultant and chief executive officer of the company, Okey Ibeke, said importers often incur avoidable expense due to inadequate knowledge on trade laws and sometimes ignorance with the losses transferred to consumers through high prices of goods at the end of the day.
Accordingly, he said, one of the primary goals of the firm is to provide assistance in interpretation of laws/regulations, product descriptions, harmonized tariff codes, valuation, rules of origin, post clearance audit among others, for the resolution of all import/export compliance and regulatory issues.
Noting that compliance level is still very low at the nation’s ports, Ibeke urged importers to avoid trade malpractices such as under declaration, under valuation, wrong classification and other related infractions, which he said are responsible for delay in cargo clearance at the ports.
“Sometimes some importers willfully refuse to comply with the laid down rules and regulations while others do it out of ignorance. So, what we do is to advise multinationals and corporate organizations on Customs processes and procedures.
“We advise them on how to classify the goods they are importing so that when the goods land they won’t have problems with the Customs. When they have issues, the Customs will detain their goods pending the resolution of the matter and they will incur demurrages resulting in additional cost which the consumers bear the brunt. So, what we do is to provide advisory services.
“We develop procedures, training modules and assessment programs to identify compliance defects, develop solutions and coordinate improvement implementation. “We provide professional resources and broad skill sets for clients such as technical specialists, licensed customs brokers, logistics experts, project managers, accountants, lawyers, freight forwarders, and auditors.
“We employ appropriate procedures to determine the proper harmonized tariff classification on imports or exports, control classification on exports and provide a complete audit trail to support our client’s classification claim. In addition, our experts can research rulings or assist in obtaining a ruling.
“Customs authorities are increasing their focus on compliance verification audits, and valuation is a key area they usually look at. Given the various methodologies, determining the value for duty of goods can be incredibly complex. Commissions, assists, royalties or related party transactions need to be considered, and getting it wrong can result in repayment of higher duties and financial penalties.
“International Trade Advisory Services Limited, therefore, helps a client to ensure the correct valuation method, the right pricing relationship with related and non-related vendors, and correct payment of duties,” he said.