Adewale Adeniyi, the acting Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, announced on Tuesday that Nigerian importers would soon be able to clear their goods from the ports in Cotonou, Benin Republic.
He made the announcement in Abuja at the end of a two-day working visit by the director-general and senior officials of the Benin Republic’s customs service.
During the two-day meeting, customs officials from both countries reached a number of agreements to improve trade relations between Nigeria and the Benin Republic and to combat smuggling.
Responding to a question at the event, Adewale stated, “We are building confidence in the Republic of Benin’s system; our importers are using their ports, and vice versa.” If people in the Benin Republic want to use our ports, we try to instil 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.
Reacting to concerns about vehicle smuggling, he said;
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.
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 said the partnership between both nations would enhance customs administration, trade facilitation and regional cooperation.
The occasion we celebrate today marks a significant milestone in our journey to strengthen collaboration, eliminate barriers, and promote legitimate trade within the West African region.