Friday, October 30, 2020

First Blockchain-Driven Digitalised Trade Completed By HSBC & Wave

The Global Trade Review (GTR) has reported that the first ever blockchain-driven fully digitalised trade transaction has been successfully completed for a trade transaction that happened between New Zealand and China. The product shipped was milk powder from Fonterra in New Zealand to Sichuan New Hope Trade in China. This was a trade transaction that involved letter of credit subject to eUCP and it was facilitated by HSBC in both countries. Also, Wave (an IT company) was the firm that provided the underlying technology called the blockchain-based digital courier platform which was used to facilitate this first ever fully digitalised trade transaction. 

The carrier that shipped the goods from New Zealand to China issued a cryptographically signed electronic bill of lading through the Wave’s Technology platform and electronically transmit it to the exporter. Upon receipt of the electronic bill of lading by Fonterra (the exporter from New Zealand), the exporter prepared the other shipping documents like invoice and packing list in the Wave’s platform and presented it via a digital ‘envelope’ to the nominated bank which is HSBC in New Zealand. The nominated bank examined the presented electronic shipping documents to ensure that they comply with terms of the letter of credit and eUCP rules. Upon confirmation that the documents complies with letter of credit terms, the nominated bank sent the electronic documents via a digital ‘envelope’ to the issuing bank which is HSBC in China. The issuing bank again examine these electronic documents and pay the exporter upon determination that they are compliant with the terms of the letter of credit and eUCP rules. The issuing bank then sends the electronic shipping documents via digital ‘envelope’ to Sichuan New Hope Trading (the importer in China). The exporter then surrendered the electronic bill of lading to carrier and collected the goods from the shipping line.

A typical trade transaction will take a couple of weeks to complete (from the time of documents issuance by the various issuers to the time of final payment by the issuing bank) and this duration was significantly increased during the movement restrictions caused by the COVID-19 lockdown in various countries from around the world. The use of this blockchain-based digital courier platform has reduced this long process to just about 24hours. The CEO of Fonterra, a company that does shipment on thousands of letter of credit transactions every year, has said that the digitalisation his company’s trade transactions using this technology had helped his company to both streamlined its supply chain processes and also reduce its cost of doing international trade business. 

The bill of lading is a very important document in any international trade transactions because it provides evidence of receipt of goods, evidence of shipment of goods and proof of ownership and title to the goods and all these characteristics aid the financing of the trade transactions by the banks. In the traditional paper-based transaction, the goods cannot be cleared until this document is surrendered to the shipping line and it takes days and sometimes weeks for this document (along with other commercial documents) to travel from origin to destination of the goods and it is physically exchange along the way from one hand to the other. The lockdown and movement restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the delay in transmission of documents and clearing of goods that followed, coupled with the demurrage cost resulting from the delay in clearing the goods at the ports have intensified the call for the use of electronic bill of lading by the importers exporter, carriers and financiers. 

 The race for fully digitalised trade has been on for a while now and a new solace has been found in the blockchain technology. One of the characteristics that has made blockchain to be suitable for this is the is its distributed ledger technology. This has also led to the development of a rule that will guide banks around the world through the process from the beginning to the end by the International Chambers of Commerce (ICC) and this is called the Uniform Rule for Digital Trade (URDT). It is therefore highly imperative for developing countries like Nigeria and Africans in general to get prepared to widely adopt this technology for the digitalisation of trade so as to facilitate the speed and volume of international trade transactions under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). This is because the AfCFTA, driven by this technology to effectively and efficiently trade among the markets on the African continent, have the potential to help African countries to attain what the developed countries have achieved in trade and development within a shorter period of time.


For the love of Nigeria, Africa and Mankind.
Bamidele Ayemibo (
Lead Consultant at 3T Impex Trade Academy


Friday, October 9, 2020


The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently issued a circular referenced TED/FEM/FPC/GEN/001/008 dated October 6, 2020 with the subject: compliance with export procedures In Nigeria. This circular is aimed at ensuring that every item exported from Nigeria is registered on the Non-Oil Export Proceeds (NXP) processing platform called the Trade Monitoring System (TRMS). This is not the first time such a circular had been issued with no compliance on the part of the stakeholders. CBN issued a similar circular sometimes in June 2017 and this had remained unsuccessful. I think it will be an effort in futility if CBN just simply issue this circular again and expect the stakeholders to comply. It will be like doing the same thing the same way and be expecting a different result. 


As a matter of fact, I spoke to an airport forwarding agent that pleaded anonymity on this issue and show him the new circular and the response was “Not compulsory compliance as at this morning. It’s just another avenue for port agencies to extort more money from exporters. It’s not going to work” if this is the response of a stakeholder, then this circular will go the way of the former one if it is not followed with action. If you engage an agent today and you said you want to export through the seaport they will ask you do you want the shipment to be done with or without NXP and they will give you different rates for the service with the fees for shipment without NXP being as high as N50,000 extra payment per container.


It is also important to note that undocumented export is driven by foreigners who come to source commodities in Nigeria. These foreigners, who came into Nigeria with visiting Visa, do not have companies registered in Nigeria, they simply partner with a Nigerian to bring in the foreign exchange, convert it to Naira and use it to purchase commodities that are exported to their parent companies abroad. The second set of people are exporters who want to profit from the large variance between parallel market rate and official rate. Another group of people who export without documentation are importers who export commodities in order to source for foreign exchange to fund the importation of their goods into the country. The last set of culprits that are engaged in this illegal act of exporting without documentation are those doing those doing trade-based money laundering. 


The new CBN circular was aimed at ensuring that all export from Nigeria is done via NXP in order to be able to track the expected export proceeds and follow up on the exporters in order to ensure that the export proceeds are repatriated. In order to ensure that this is done, all Shipping lines and Airlines (who are the carriers) are expected to state the NXP number respectively on Billing of Lading and Air Waybill that they issue to the exporters. When this circular was initially issued in 2017, the exporters are the ones to make the NXP numbers available to the carriers and that means they can give them a fake NXP number without the carriers being able to validate the authenticity of the NXP numbers. Now that the NXP processing has been automated via the TRMS, the carriers must have access to the TRMS to be able to pick up the NXP by themselves for every Bill of Lading or Air Waybill that they issue for exporters. 


However, even with this automation and the carrier having access to the TRMS, the issue of illegal export via seaport or airport without the processing of NXP will not stop until the CBN address the four major factors that are causing the issue of undocumented export to continue to increase in the country. This is because these are fundamental issues that are driving the illegal act of exporting out of the country without documentation. These factors are Collaboration, Competitiveness, Chastisement and Corruption. If the first three of these factors are addressed by the CBN, it will reduce the impact of the last one which is corruption, on the rising level of undocumented export out of the country. However, if these factors are not address, the problem is going to remain even if ten circulars are issued by the CBN. Also, if CBN is going about to punish exporters who processed NXP without repatriating the proceeds, this will make them to either join other exporters who are doing undocumented exportation or do their export through the neighbouring countries like some of them have already started doing. Which means, they source for goods in Nigeria, ship it through the land border to Benin Republic and then ship it out from there through their seaport.


The first factor is Collaboration, and this is the first issue that CBN must address in order to stop the menace of undocumented exportation. CBN needs to collaborate with exporters, carriers and the regulators of the carriers like the Nigerian Shippers Council, Nigerian Port Authority, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Federal Airport Authority etc. CBN must have a regular engagement or forum with these stakeholders in order to be able to investigate the reason for undocumented export and also educated them on the effect of this act on the national economy which indirectly impact on the cost of living of the people of Nigeria of which they are one. Such a forum should also be used to get some suggested solutions regarding what CBN needs to do in order to stop this from happening again. What CBN must stop doing is to issue circular and just expect the other stakeholders, particularly the regulators to comply. Even if it means that CBN will use part of the NESS fee paid by exporters to pay a monitoring fees to these regulators in order to implement the circular then that has to be done. 


Competitiveness is another challenge for the rising level of undocumented export. What CBN did not realise is that as the exchange rate of Naira to dollar is rising, the local market price for the products are also rising but the export market price remain stable or even decline from the impact of COVID-19. So someone that is exporting Hibiscus flower that use to export a tonne at about N380,000 when exchange rate was N360 to a dollar now has to pay about N445,000 per tonne to export the same products due to increase in cost of products and logistics while the export market has largely remain stable. This means that the only way to break-even is to leverage on the exchange rate differential. However, a situation where the exporter is forced to sell at 380 via the I&E window will mean a loss to the exporter and this will be a disincentive to use NXP or the bank in their export process. So in summary, CBN is making Nigerian exporters to be uncompetitive in the export market by forcing them to sell the export proceeds at a rate that is much lower than what is obtainable in the parallel market. CBN must liaise with exporter to find a balance that works for both the exporters and the government.


Chastisement or punitive measures is the third factor that must be introduced, and this is the whole essence of the proposed collaboration. CBN should have a solid arrangement with the regulators of the carriers to fine the carrier that fails to input a valid NXP number on the transport documents (Bill of Lading or Air Waybill) being issued by the carriers. This means that there must be a monthly audit of the transport documents being issued for exportation by all the carriers operating in Nigeria to ascertain that all the documents have NXP number and that the NXP numbers are validly issued via TRMS to the company stated on each of the documents. If CBN is ready to pay for this monitoring by these regulatory agencies, that might be an incentive for them to hire a staff that will be doing the audit and reconciliation with CBN staff at the end of every month. This way the erring carriers can be identified and sanctioned appropriately. This will consequently force all exporters to process NXP for their export transactions. 


Corruption is another factor that must not be ignored in the enforcement of compliance to the export procedures. However, if the three factors discussed above are addressed, then the impact of corruption on the rising level of undocumented export in Nigeria can be significantly reduced. What is empowering corruption at the port regarding exportation without NXP is policies of government that does not carry along the stakeholders and also does not factor in the profitability of the main actors in the export business, that is the exporters themselves.


Finally, if the CBN wants the enforce compliance with the new export procedures, then it must collaborate with the stakeholders to get their buy in, allow exchange rate regime for exporters that boost competitiveness, work with the regulators of the carriers to penalise the erring airlines and shipping line and all these have the tendency to reduce the corruption that empowers the continuous shipment of undocumented goods out of Nigeria through all the major seaports and airports in the country. 


For the love of Nigeria, Africa and Mankind.
Bamidele Ayemibo (
Lead Consultant at 3T Impex Trade Academy

AFCFTA Exploring Exportable Products To African Markets PART 7

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Executive Diploma In Service Export Management

Thinking of Export Your Services to the world, then enrol for Executive Diploma In Service Export Management from the American Institutes of Extended Studies. #exports #serviceexport

Thursday, March 19, 2020

How Nigeria Can Reduce Foreign Exchange Utilisation By 15%

The Nigerian foreign exchange (FX) rate has been on life supports since the last economic recession which was orchestrated by the fall in crude oil price. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) gave this life support through the creation of a Form Q for the importation of goods by SMEs with a maximum of $20,000 per quarter which is aimed at getting them to buy their FX from banks instead of the Bureau De Change. In addition to this, the CBN also initiated a technical prohibition of over 40 items that were declared as being non-valid for foreign exchange.

Unfortunately for the CBN, these measures have not reduced the volume of importation into the country. The trade report of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has consistently shown an increase in the volume of importation from $31.5billion in 2016 to $55.2billion in 2019. The question we should be asking now is that, for how long can this life support carry the pressure being mounted on Naira by the rapidly increasing volume of importation and slowly increasing volume of exportation? This is surely not a sustainable measure and this is showing right now with the current pressure being mounted on the FX by the reducing oil prices again.

The last NBS report also showed that Nigeria can avoid a repeat of the current situation of undue pressure on the Naira if the government can just do the needful by the implementation of policies that ensure that items that Nigeria can produce locally (which is also consuming a good chunk of the country's FX) are not allow for import into the country. This type of policy can be implemented over a period of time through the use of quota and licensing so as to ensure that the country is self-sufficient before a total ban is placed on them. If this can be done for products like Premium Motor Spirit ($5.79billion), Gas Oil ($1.31billion), Durum Wheat ($0.95billion) and Cane Sugar ($0.54billion) alone, Nigeria will be saving about $8.6billion of the forex exchange spent on import bills and this comes to about 15% of the total volume of importation done in the year 2019.

As the nation is implementing this policy on reduced utilisation of foreign exchange on one hand, there is a need to also increase the generation of foreign exchange on the other hand. If this is not done, then we will be back here in another few years from now if this crude oil price plummet again just the way it happened after the implementation of reduced foreign exchange utilisation policy (form Q and 43 non-valid for fx items) of 2016. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) has created a great and unique opportunity for Nigerians to start exporting its manufactured goods to other African countries and thereby not just increasing its export volume but also diversifying the sources of foreign exchange generation for the country. Thereby building enough shock absorbers to withstand any decline in the crude oil prices in the future.

Finally, I will like to appeal to the government of the day to hasten action on all that needs to be done in terms of ratification and depositing the required trade instrument of Nigeria with the AU secretariat in order for Nigeria to become a state party that can fully participate under the AfCFTA. This is to ensure that, when trading begins in July 2020, Nigeria can effectively start trading with other African countries under this largest free trade area in the world.

For the love of Nigeria, Africa and Mankind.
Bamidele Ayemibo (
Lead Consultant at 3T Impex Trade Academy

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Non-Oil Export Grew By Over 50% In 2019

The newly released full year report of NBS for the 2019 showed an increase of 50% in the non-oil export component of the total export from Nigeria when compared to that of the year 2018. This is due to an increase from 6.2% in 2018 to 13.1% in 2019. The report also showed about 200% increase in the non-oil export component of the total export from Nigeria from Q4 of 2018  to Q4 of 2019. This is due to an increase from 4.6% in 2018 to 12.7% in 2019.

This is happening at a point in time when Nigeria has closed her borders which has prevented goods from being imported into and exported out of the country through the land borders. The Q4 report of 2019 showed a decline of about 8% when compared to Q3 of 2019. However, both reports showed a consistency in the rise in non-oil export from Nigeria when compared to previous years and these have been largely attributed to the fact that the land border closure has forced many Nigerian non-oil exporters to begin to ship by sea and this most likely has led to them being forced to declare the item being shipped out of the country and thereby leading to an increase in the reported non-oil export from Nigeria. The fact that the manufacturing component of the Q3 and Q4 in 2019 were higher than the same period in the previous year is a confirmation to the fact that the majority of the items now being shipped by sea are manufactured goods and most of them are going to West Africa and other parts of Africa. 

The quantum of export of manufactured goods leaving Nigeria from the data available now showed that Nigeria is partially ready for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and it is very important for the government of the day to hasten action on all that needs to be done in terms of ratification and depositing the required trade instrument of Nigeria with the AU secretariat in order for Nigeria to become a state party that can fully participate under the AfCFTA. This is to ensure that, when trading begins in July 2020, Nigeria can effectively start training with other African countries under this largest free trade area in the world.
Bamidele Ayemibo