The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has announced a bilateral agreement with its counterpart in Benin Republic. This agreement aims to facilitate importers in clearing their goods from the port located in Cotonou.
Adewale Adeniyi, acting comptroller-general of the NCS, spoke on Tuesday in Abuja at the end of a two-day working visit by the director-general and senior officials of the customs service of Benin Republic.
Adeniyi said the meeting was aimed at boosting trade relations between Nigeria and the Benin Republic, as well as curbing smuggling.
Responding to the questions on the opening of the port, Adeniyi said the customs would ensure that due process is being followed.
“We are building confidence in the system offered by the Republic of Benin, our importers are using their ports and vice-versa,” he said.
“If there are people in the Benin Republic who want to use our ports, we try to build trust in our systems.
“And by virtue of this agreement, what it means is that Nigerian importers willing to use the ports in Cotonou can have their goods cleared in those ports because there would be an opportunity for them to pay duties on goods that are liable for payment of duties.
“We can account for the duties on those goods in the ports of arrival. So they will now be free to enter Nigeria.”
On the issues of smuggling, the acting comptroller-general said vehicles are not the only item being smuggled.
“It goes beyond vehicles. Any goods arriving in Cotonou ports, duty can be accessed and payment can be made and from there, it comes into the Nigerian territory,” Adeniyi said.
“It is just like what happens when goods come in through Lagos or Port Harcourt; it is pretty much the same. But we have not got there. We have agreed in principle that we can operationalise this.
“So the steps that we are going to take to get us to that particular destination is what we are going to be working on. It was mentioned in the communique that we are going to establish timelines when we hope to achieve that particular milestone.”
Adewale expressed confidence that the partnership between both countries would improve customs administration, trade facilitation, and regional cooperation in West Africa.