The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS); Bashir Adewale Adeniyi has given reasons Nigerian importers are yet to commence clearance of goods from Benin Republic, five months after the announcement was made.
Recall that in September 2023, a glimmer of hope emerged for Nigerian importers struggling with port congestion when the Comptroller-General of NCS, announced a collaboration with Benin Republic Customs to allow Nigerian importers to clear their goods directly from Cotonou ports.
However in a recent chat with the CG of Customs, he emphasized that the initiative is not a quick-fix, but a complex process requiring extensive collaboration at various levels.
“It is still an ongoing process, what we are working out with the Benin Republic is not going to be an event. It’s a process. It might take some time. It might go beyond us at the level of customs administration to that of ministerial level and possibly the authorities of Heads of State”, he explained.
He highlighted the crucial role of presidents Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Nigeria and Patrice Talon of Benin Republic in driving the initiative, even as he added that both leaders have expressed strong commitment to the collaboration and mandated their respective customs administrations to find workable modalities.
He said the path to seamless cross-border clearance involves addressing several challenges, which include fiscal policy harmonization, explaining that aligning the fiscal policies of both countries is crucial to prevent discrepancies in duty rates and other regulations that can create bottlenecks.
Speaking further, he noted that the influx of used vehicles through Benin has raised concerns about safety and environmental standards adding that finding a common ground on import regulations is essential.
Despite the complexities, the CG expressed optimism about the possibility of the initiative. He acknowledged the potential benefits for both countries:
He said by utilizing Cotonou’s capacity, Nigerian importers can alleviate the pressure on domestic ports and expedite clearance processes.
Adeniyi further stated that the streamlined cross-border procedures will boost regional trade and economic growth.