VIN Valuation negates first principle of customs valuation, says Sea Empowerment and Research Centre


… Says customs yet to identify any stakeholder consulted before implementing policy

Following the protests and objections that greeted the recent introduction of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) Valuation by the management of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the Sea Empowerment and Research Centre has said that facts available revealed that the Service’s E- Valuation as good as it may sound negates the first  principle of custom valuation which is transactional system of valuation under Article vii of the GATT 1994.

The Director General of the Centre, Mr. Uchechukwu Aniezechukwu who stated this in a statement made available to our correspondent in Lagos observed that the primary basis for customs value under this Agreement is “transaction value” as defined in Article 1.

According to him, Article 1 is to be read together with Article 8 which provides, inter alia, for adjustments to the price actually paid or payable in cases where certain specific elements which are considered to form a part of the value for customs purposes are incurred by the buyer but are not included in the
price actually paid or payable for the imported goods.

He also noted that Article 8 also provides for the inclusion in the transaction value of certain considerations which may pass from the buyer to the seller in the form of
specified goods or services rather than in the form of money.

Aniezechukwu went further to posit that Articles 2 through 7 provide methods of determining the customs value whenever it cannot be determined under the provisions of Article 1.

“Where the customs value cannot be determined under the provisions of Article 1, there should normally be a process of consultation between the customs administration and importer with a view to arriving at a basis of value under the provisions of Article 2 or 3. It may occur, for example, that the importer has information about the customs value of identical or similar imported goods which is not  immediately available to the customs administration in the port of importation.

“On the other hand, the customs administration may have information about the customs value of identical or similar imported goods which is not readily available to the importer. A process of consultation between the two parties will enable information to be exchanged, subject to the requirements of commercial confidentiality with a view to determining a proper basis of value for customs purposes.

“Articles 5 and 6 provide two basis for determining the customs value where it cannot be determined on the basis of the transaction value of the imported goods or of identical or similar imported goods. Under paragraph 1 of Article 5, the customs value is determined on the basis of the price at which the goods are sold in the condition as imported to an unrelated buyer in the country of
importation. The importer also has the right to have goods which are further processed after importation valued under the provisions of Article 5 if the importer so requests.

“Under Article 6, the customs value is determined on the basis of the computed value. Both these methods present certain difficulties and because of this, the importer is given the right, under the provisions of Article 4 to choose the order of application of the two methods.

“Article 7 sets out how to determine the customs value in cases where it cannot be determined under the provisions of any of the preceding Articles.

“Members having regard to the Multilateral Trade Negotiations; Desiring to further the objectives of GATT 1994 and to secure additional benefits for the international trade of developing countries; Recognizing the importance of the provisions of Article VII of GATT 1994 and desiring to elaborate rules for their application in order to provide greater uniformity and certainty in their implementation; Recognizing the need for a fair, uniform and neutral system for the valuation of goods for
customs purposes that precludes the use of arbitrary or fictitious customs values; Recognizing that the basis for valuation of goods for customs purposes should, to the greatest
extent possible, be the transaction value of the goods being valued”, he said.

He added that this internationally accepted system of valuing goods states clearly in paragraph 2 that where the value of goods cannot be determined by according to article 1, there should be a process of consultation between the customs and the importer to determine the value to be used.

“Obviously, there has not been any record either from the Nigeria Customs Service or Nigeria Custom Licensed Agent or Nigeria importers where this consultation was made prior to the implementation of this policy. The best that was stated by Nigeria Custom Spokesperson was that stakeholders was sensitized on the use and benefits of the VIN Valuation.

“It therefore implies that for the above to be feasible, NICIS II Portal must be  interactive to comform with international best practice not dictatorial thereby constituting barriers to trade.

“Nigeria Custom Service is requested to publish in their official website, the current value of this vehicles under VIN Valuation and in addition, publish publicly the duty rate of all used vehicles from 2007 to 2021 for proper guide to the general trading community”, he contended.

The Director General recalled that the Federal Government fiscal policy measures for automotive industry reference No. BD/FP/DO/09/1/189 of 14th November, 2013 and Customs & Exercise (C&E) Notice No. 30 provided for rebates between 10% – 50% as the vehicle depreciates in age even as he argued that facts revealed that this rebates was not applied on the imputed VIN Valuation.

He continued, “Government policy has always had a large amount of influence on economic growth and the creation of new business and foreign investments. Nigeria being an import dependent economy must rely heavily on free market and transparency in policy formulations.

“It is obvious that no critical stakeholder has been identified by Nigeria Custom Service as consulted before implementing this policy. This  will obviously affect the little gains the Federal Government has made in stabilizing Nigeria economy as it is primarily the decisions of investors, producers and effects on end users  that mold a nation economy.”

Photo: Mr. Uchechukwu Aniezechukwu, Director General, Sea Empowerment and Research Centre.

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