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Adopt official FX rate for intra-African transactions, CBN tells banks

Commercial banks have been directed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to adopt the exchange rate in the importer and exporter window (I&E) for cross border payments through the Pan-African Payments and Settlement System (PAPSS).

PAPSS is a centralised payment and settlement infrastructure for intra-African trade and commerce payments.

It was developed by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in partnership with the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI).

This directive was issued by the apex bank in a circular introducing the guidelines on operations of PAPSS in Nigeria, recently signed by Ozoemena Nnaji, CBN’s director of trade and exchange department.

The I&E FX window is the market trading segment for investors, exporters and end-users that allows for FX trades to be made at exchange rates determined based on prevailing market circumstances.

Currently, naira trades between N410 and N411 at the market – which the CBN had adopted as the country’s official rate.

By implication, intra-African businesses will need CBN’s approval for banks to convert rates at the prevailing I&E FX rate for cross border payments and transactions.

“All authorised dealers are required to ensure that prevailing exchange rate at Investors and Exporters Forex Window as advised by Financial Markets Department, FMD, should be used in cross-rates conversion between Naira, United States Dollars and third currencies within Africa, for outbound payments and vice-versa for inflows,” the circular reads.

“For settlement of PAPSS transactions by CBN, authorised dealers shall obtain the approval of CBN for dollar cover before initiating payments on PAPSS.

“The request for approval should be forwarded to the Director, Financial Markets Department, CBN.

“That eligible payment of imports and receipt of export proceeds by the CBN shall be restricted to trade-backed transactions only and that the documentation requirements stipulated in Memorandum 9 and 10 of the Foreign Exchange Manual (2018) and other extant circulars shall apply. Import payments shall also be restricted to goods of African origin.”

According to the circular, all the required documentation should be provided before a transaction is initiated on PAPSS by authorised dealers and their customers.

It further noted that export proceeds repatriated to CBN under PAPSS shall be subject to certification by respective processing banks as being repatriated by the exporter.

The circular added that the provisions of all existing guidelines, circulars, and directives on the operations of foreign exchange market shall apply.

The CBN, however, stated that only eligible transactions as may be determined by the central bank from time to time shall be eligible for payment on PAPSS.

“Items classified ‘not valid for Foreign Exchange’ shall remain ineligible,” the circular adds.

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