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Nigeria importers to clear goods from Cotonou

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By Usman Oladimeji

The move is seen as a progress towards sub-regional trade facilitation.

Importers in Nigeria have been given advantage to a new way to facilitate the importation of their goods and products through a recent deal with the Benin Republic. It was announced that Nigerian importers who intend to import their goods via the Cotonou Ports situated in the Benin Republic will be granted the permission to do so legally very soon. The establishment of a clearing point for goods bound for Nigeria stands out as a prominent aspect of the Director-General of Customs Service of Benin Republic, Mr. Alain Hinkati’s two-day working visit. This information was shared through a recently released Communique in Abuja.

Mr. Adewale Adeniyi, the Acting Comptroller-General (ACG) of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), elucidated that the details of the framework are currently being meticulously worked out. In accordance with the agreement, commodities destined for Nigeria would undergo a comprehensive assessment and subsequent payment of the appropriate levies in the country. Such duties would be credited to the Nigerian government, through the NCS. Mr. Adeniyi see the framework as a significant progress towards sub-regional integration and the facilitation of trade efforts of his team at the Customs, in conjunction with their counterparts from the Benin Republic.

NCS is committed and working to minimize the barriers.

He noted that the Service has effectively eliminated any impediments surrounding trade related affairs, as the number of checkpoints has been considerably reduced. Also, through collaboration with the police authorities, the Service is committed and working to minimize the barriers to the most extent possible. The Acting Comptroller-General revealed that the Customs Service is currently in the advanced phases of harmonizing its Information Technology infrastructure with that of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) with the aim of mitigating the unlawful importation of motor vehicles into the nation.

In a similar vein, the Customs Head also made it known that, under his direction, the Service was aligning the list of prohibited commodities with that of the Benin Republic, thereby furthering the organization’s security responsibility. Regarding the effort of his administration to build trust within border communities, he expressed his team’s commitment to imposing utmost importance upon these communities in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility. Speaking, Mr. Alain Hinkati, the Director-General of the Customs Service of the Benin Republic, urges the Nigerian authorities to open the border linking the two nations.

Concrete measures should be taken to achieve the discussed goals.

Hinkati stated that the closing of the border was having a negative impact on trade promotion between the two countries and the sub-region. The Benin Republic Customs Director-General underscored the importance of taking concrete measures to realize the goals discussed during the two-day working visit, calling it a moment of profound discourse to stretch out discussions already engaged in his country. “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.

Moreover, the ongoing development of a framework aimed at enabling the clearance of goods destined for Nigeria within the borders of Benin Republic, and reciprocally, is poised to serve as a catalyst for enhancing trade activities between these two nations. “We aspire to guarantee the comprehensive resolution of all impediments to trade,” he added. Also speaking, the Ambassador of the Benin Republic to Nigeria, H.E Adjovi Paulette, eloquently expressed that Nigerians and Beninoise share a profound kinship, likening their relationship to that of having a room in the Benin Republic and a parlour in Nigeria.

Benin Republic is poised to cooperate with Nigerian authorities.

She further assured that the Benin Republic is poised to cooperate with Nigerian authorities, with the primary objective of promoting trade between the two nations in a way that will benefit both parties. The recent announcement holds a major impact for importers who prefer utilizing the Cotonou ports rather than to those in Nigeria, primarily owing to the comparatively diminished hindrances to trade facilitation. Also, the move is consistent with the new Nigerian administration to restore the country’s diplomatic ties with neighbouring nations by facilitating trade.

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