Nigeria Customs Service and Benin Republic Customs counterparts have forged a path towards more efficient and effective customs practices, strengthen collaboration, eliminate barriers, and promote legitimate trade between both Nigeria and Benin Republic.
The new pact, which is aimed at enhancing customs administration, trade facilitation, and regional cooperation, will also allow Nigerian importers who desire to import their goods through Cotonou Ports in Benin Republic will be free to do so legally.
The alliance is the outcome of a two-day working visit by the director-general of Benin Republic Customs Service, Mr. Alain Kinkati which took place between Monday and Tuesday this week. Representatives of both countries said the occasion was a significant milestone in a journey to promote legitimate trade within the West African region.
Under the new arrangement, Nigerian importers willing to use Cotonou ports in Benin can now have their vehicles and other items cleared there for them to be free to enter Nigeria. Ag. comptroller-general of Customs Bashir Adewale Adeniyi said the partnership creates an office for Nigerian importers in Benin to clear their goods and pay the relevant duties without hitches, and the duties credited to the Nigerian government, through the NCS.
The CG also disclosed that the relevant department within the Nigeria Customs Service has been entrusted with the task of reviewing the current impediments to the ECOWAS trade liberalisation scheme to chart practical ways forward. “Our objective remains steadfast: to stimulate economic growth, foster regional integration, and nurture prosperity among our nations.”
Adewale said his administration has undertaken substantial measures to reduce barriers along our trade corridors. He said both Nigeria Customs and its Benin counterpart are fostering a more conducive environment for legitimate trade to flourish.
The NCS said it is working on integrating its information technology systems with the Federal Road Safety Corps to curb illegal entry of vehicles. The integration is expected to enhance customs ability to monitor and regulate cross-border vehicle movements more effectively.
Kinkati said the cooperation will help trade facilitation between Nigeria and Benin Republic with a focus on fighting smuggling.
He said both nations are actively engaging in cooperation, intelligence sharing, and resource pooling with other regional partners to ensure the security and safety of shared borders. He pleaded with the Nigerian authorities to open the border with his country.
Mr Kinkati the two-day working visit was a time of Frank discussion to deepen talks earlier in his country a d that practical steps needed to be taken to actualize the objectives. “We need to improve our trade facilitation. What we have done here is to deepen the discussions we had in Benin. We need concrete steps to have results,” he said.
In a response to the DG’s remark that Nigeria’s border closure was hurting trade facilitation between the two countries, the customs CG said the Nigeria Customs is working diligently to engage with border communities. “Nigeria Customs Service is currently developing plans to incorporate border communities as priority in its Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy. We are also promoting professionalism and tax compliance among our customs officers.”