By Kadiri Abdulrahman
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) says it is in collaboration talks with the Customs Service of neighbouring Republic of Benin to improve trade relations between both countries.
The Acting Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs, Mr Adewale Adeniyi, made this known on Tuesday in Abuja, during a two-day working visit of the Director-General of Customs, Republic of Benin, Alain Hinkati, to Nigeria.
Adeniyi said that Hinkati’s visit was in furtherance of ongoing efforts to enhance customs administration, trade facilitation and regional cooperation.
According to him, the visit marks a significant milestone in our journey to strengthen collaboration, eliminate barriers and promote legitimate trade within the West African region.
“It is with profound gratitude that I recall our previous visit to our esteemed counterparts in Benin, where fruitful discussions and resolutions were made; forging a path towards more efficient and effective customs practices.
“Today, I am honoured to highlight some of the remarkable progress we have made since that visit, as well as the commitment to further solidify these gains.
“On promotion of ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme, the relevant department within the NCS has been entrusted with the task of reviewing the current impediments to the scheme to chart practical ways forward.
“Our objective remains steadfast; to stimulate economic growth, foster regional integration and nurture prosperity among our nations,” he said.
The Acting CG said that, in collaboration with the Inspector General of the Nigeria Police, the NCS had undertaken substantial measures to reduce barriers along trade corridors.
He said that by addressing those challenges, the NCS was fostering a more conducive environment for legitimate trade to flourish.
“We are currently in the final stages of integrating our IT systems with the Federal Road Safety to curb illegal entry of vehicles.
“This integration will enhance our ability to monitor and regulate cross-border vehicle movements more effectively,” he said.
Adeniyi said that initiatives have also been launched to harmonise the list of products prohibited in Nigeria.
According to him, this step not only promotes consistency but also facilitates smoother trade relations with our partners.
He added that the NCS was swiftly progressing toward Nigeria’s integration into the Interconnected System for the Management of Goods in Transit (SIGMAT), joining hands with other West African nations.
“This interconnected system promises to further streamline our transit operations and improve regional trade dynamics”.
He said the accomplishments were a testament to the dedication in collaboration with regional partners, adding, however, that the journey was far from complete.
“The challenges we face require our continued commitment and resolve to overcome them. As we solidify these gains, we must also look ahead with a sense of urgency,” Adeniyi said.
The visiting D-G Customs of the Republic of Benin, Alain Hikanti, had earlier commended the NCS for its efforts at forging the collaboration.
Hinkati said that his visit to Nigeria had provided the opportunity to deepen the different issues that were raised in June when Adeniyi paid a similar visit to the Republic of Benin.
“We have decided to explore the benefits of the opportunities of our mutual advantages.
“We are working towards having a Nigeria clearing ground Republic of Benin to make importation of goods through our borders more seamless,” he said.
Also present at the event were the Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of Benin, Olukayode Olugbenga, and the Ambassador of Republic of Benin to Nigeria, Marcelline Adjovi-Yekpe. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Muhammad Suleiman Tola