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Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Nafeza arrives on 1 October, like it or not

The Finance Ministry has no plans to respond to calls from some in the business community to postpone the roll out of the ACI system on 1 October — a deadline by which anyone who has not signed up for the Customs Authority’s new one-stop platform, Nafeza, will not be allowed to clear imported goods out of customs at seaports, Minister Mohamed Maait said during a roundtable yesterday, Al Masry Al Youm reports. Authorities have been piloting the new Advanced Cargo Information (ACI) pre-registration system since April and had originally planned to make it compulsory at all seaports in July, before making it mandatory at other ports of entry at a later stage. Calls from business groups had led the Finance Ministry to push the 1 July deadline to October to give businesses more time to adapt.

But the business community says it’s still not ready: Importers and exporters are lobbying for a multi-month extension of the 1 October deadline for registering on the new ACI system — a World Customs Organization protocol that runs on blockchain technology — saying they still need time to go through with the “complex” and “lengthy” registration process. A large number of importers said they faced challenges in completing the three-step process to pre-register a shipment through the system.

FinMin, however, says traffic on the ACI system is picking up: As many as 2.5k importers and customs agents have registered about 18k customs transactions for shipments via the ACI since its pilot launch in April, Maait said. Nafeza now has nearly 7.7k activated accounts, and CargoX now has about 26k exporters registered, he added.

REMEMBER- The four steps to register with Nafeza are: Create an account on the Nafeza digital platform, register your e-signature either through Misr for Central Clearing, Depository and Registry (MCDR) or Egypt Trust, and file a request through Nafeza to obtain a shipment identification number within 48 hours, which will be valid for three months. After receiving the ID, you must then register on the CargoX Platform for Blockchain Document Transfer (BDT) and submit the required documents.

Maait has rolled out a series of financial incentives to encourage companies to register during the ACI’s pilot phase, the latest of which is a 50% discount on registration fees for those who sign up this month, in addition to 30% off for anyone registering during the first half, and 20% off during the second half of September. Those that register during the pilot phase, which ends on 1 October, will see their import and export operations fast tracked at every logistical hub, allowing for faster clearing and checking of cargo.

The minister has also taken steps to lower risk and financial pressure on participating importers, who will be allowed to defer payment of 70% of taxes and fees to clear cargo at shipping ports until after the cargo arrives at Egyptian ports — and will be entitled to a refund on what they’ve paid in the event that their shipment is banned from entry or disposed of, under new rules approved earlier this month by the ministry.

Want a breakdown of all you need to know on how to prepare for the new ACI system? We have this in-depth explainer here.

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