In line with the Federal Government’s drive to facilitate trade and improve Nigeria’s economy to become globally competitive, a delegation of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), led by the Ag. Comptroller General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi has paid a working visit to the Republic of Benin and signed a 12-point communique which aims to fully re-open the border between both countries, a statement signed on Tuesday by National Spokesman of Customs, Abdullahi Maiwada revealed.
According to the Customs statement, “The Ag. CGC and his delegation visited the Nigerian Embassy on Monday, 24th of July and met with Ambassador Kayode Aluko, the Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of Benin.
“Thereafter, they were received by the Director General of the Customs Administration in Benin, Mr. Alain Hinkati, Customs partners Webb Fontaine and Benin Control.
“They also visited Customs facilities at the port of Cotonou, where the Ag. CGC was taken through the processes and operations at the port.”
During the visit, the two chiefs engaged with stakeholders from both countries and their concerns were identified and effectively considered.
Notable among the concerns is the request to review the possibilities of reopening the border, as well as addressing the issue of administrative charges.
According to the Ag. CGC, “The visit is to deepen collaborations in mutually positive areas.
“The objective of the visit is for us to review friendship with the Customs administration of Benin and also to deepen collaborations in areas of common interest.”
“I saw the attention that was given to the port of Cotonou, the progress that is being made in reducing clearance time, ensuring that there is no congestion at the Port and, more importantly, using technology to drive operations of the Customs Administration”, he said.
“The attempt which Benin Customs has done towards trade facilitation is something that Nigeria Customs will also be doing particularly to look at where we can use our processes to reduce the cost and time of doing business.”
At the end of the meeting, a joint communique signed by the two delegations read as follows:
“The continuation of efforts to promote the ECOWAS trade liberalization scheme and the facilitation of the movement of goods and community products in particular;
“Facilitation of the issue of Laisse passe for a short stay in one of the countries of means of transport registered in the other country;
“The removal of barriers and other obstacles to legitimate trade and the establishment of Customs units when the traffic justifies it;
“Strict compliance with transit rules;
“Harmonization of the list of products prohibited by the two countries;
“The rapid integration of Nigeria into the Interconnected System for the Management of Goods in Transit (SIGMAT), which already includes the Customs Administrations of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo;
“Strengthening the fight against cross-border crime through cooperation, intelligence sharing and the pooling of resources;
“Holding meetings twice a year to discuss matters of common interest;
“The reactivation of the joint committee for monitoring trade and transit relations;
“The revival of consultation frameworks of border customs units with the active participation of the private sector;
“Promoting good relations with border populations, professionalism and tax compliance;
“and securing the international supply chain.”
Meanwhile, the Ag. CGC and his delegation had a private meeting with the President of the Republic of Benin, his Excellency Mr. Patrice TALON, on Sunday, 23rd of July, expressing the desire to initiate a new turning point marked by close collaboration in all areas.