Central Bank of Nigeria halts forex access for maize imports to boost local industry

NIGERIA — The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has blocked access to foreign exchange for maize imports as it seeks to boost local production, stimulate a rapid economic recovery, safeguard rural livelihoods, and increase jobs which were lost as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In a notice signed by Dr O.S Nnaji, CBN’s Director in charge of Trade and Exchange Department, CBN has directed all authorised dealers to immediately discontinue the processing of Forms M for maize/corn importation into the country.

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In addition, the dealers have been told to return all the Forms M they have already registered for the purpose of importing maize.

“Accordingly, all Authorised Dealers are hereby requested to submit the list of Forms M already registered for the importation of Maize/Corn using the attached format on or before the close of business on Wednesday July 15, 2020. Please ensure strict compliance,” stated Dr Nnaji.

Form M is a mandatory statutory document to be completed by all importers for the importation of goods into Nigeria. Without the form, goods cannot be approved for importation into the country.

The documentation process is put in place by the Federal Government through the CBN and the Nigeria Customs Service, reports The Punch.

In June 2015, the CBN issued a circular containing a list of 41 imported goods and services that were banned from accessing Nigeria’s official Foreign Exchange Market.

According to a report by Nairametrics, the ban was another hard-line position taken by the apex bank to keep control of the demand of the dollar to as low as it possibly can.

Over the years, the CBN has been modifying this list by including more items. The addition of maize/corn, which is a widely-consumed staple food in the country, is the latest modification.

Cereals including maize and other assorted grains make up Nigeria’s top ten imports. In 2019, the country spent about US$1.3 billion on cereals importation, according to World’s Top Export.

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