Christian Retailing

Nigeria’s imported-book tariff violates international agreement Print Email
Written by Deonne Lindsey   
Monday, 09 June 2014 03:39 PM America/New_York

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A significant new book tariff announced recently in Nigeria may not be enacted after all, adding just one more question for retailers and publishers doing business in a country experiencing its share of change, persecution and violence.

Nigeria’s Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala announced March 18 that the country was planning to impose a 62.5% tariff on imported printed books, according to The story went on to say that the tariff was approved in a ministry circular Feb. 28, but would apply retroactively from Jan. 1. That decision represented a departure from a UNESCO agreement signed 60 years ago in which officials agreed not to impose charges on imported books, publications and educational materials.

Christian Booksellers Association Nigeria (CBAN) had some good news for Christian publishers, however.

“Members of Christian Booksellers Association Nigeria who had shipments of Christian books and Bibles have not had to pay any tariff on their goods,” said CBAN National Administrative Secretary Charity Akinwunmi.

The secretary said that CBAN officials have been in discussions with the government and have learned that the implementation of the new tariff has been suspended until Sept. 30.

Akinwunmi also noted that retailers are seeing a distinction between how general interest and religious books and Bibles are being handled.

“Our members who have shipments of general interest books have not yet had their goods released to them,” she said. “More talks between operators in the trade and the appropriate government department are planned. We hope that talks will result in the tariff being rolled back and no longer applied.”

In the meantime, the association advises that Christian books and Bibles should be shipped separately from educational and general interest books.

Tyndale House Publishers is hopeful that his company’s trade accounts will not be affected by the substantial tariff.

“Should the tariff be instituted, it would be a serious barrier to those in Nigeria who are to benefit most from the industry’s books and Bibles,” said James Elwell, Tyndale’s director of international publishing.

Rick Heyer, international sales manager for Charisma House, also does business with Nigerian customers.

“We will see if the tariffs will affect the buying from Nigeria at ICRS,” Heyer said. “They usually buy twice a year from us. So far I have seen an increase, not a decrease in buying from Nigeria.” —Deonne Lindsey