The President of the Federal Government of Nigeria (“FGN”), has approved the waiver of import duty and value-added tax (VAT) on all medical equipment and supplies (“Covered Products”) imported into Nigeria from 1 May 2020, for an initial period of six months. This approval was made public by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed (“the Minister”) on 7 May 2020. The FGN has also approved the expedited import processing of Covered Products at all times during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The powers to vary or suspend any duty or levy is vested with the President, pursuant to the Customs, Excise Tariff, Etc. (Consolidation) Act, whilst the power to vary the list of items exempted from VAT is vested with the Minister. The FGN has now toed the line of over 150 members of the World Trade Organization who have introduced trade, and trade-related measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Covered Products are those listed in the indicative list of COVID-19 essential items recommended by the World Customs Organisation and the World Health Organisation. However, in line with FGN’s commitment to encourage local production, the following items in the indicative list have been excluded from import duty exemption:
- Textile face masks
- Undenatured ethyl alcohol
- Hydrogen peroxide (medical and disinfectant)
- Hand sanitizers
- Syringes (with or without needles)
Based on the indicative list and the announced exclusions, please click here for a deduced list of items that would be exempt from import duty and VAT. We expect the final list to be communicated by the Nigeria Customs Service.
Meanwhile, there are indications that a significant level of understanding has been reached with neighbouring countries on modalities for reopening the land borders. It would be recalled that Nigeria closed her land borders in October 2019, to check widespread smuggling of goods. A decision to reopen the land borders is expected to be made by the President after the COVID-19 pandemic, on the understanding that neighbouring countries will take steps to comply with trade protocols for regional movement of goods.