By Aisha Cole
The Comptroller-General of Customs, Wale Adeniyi, says the service is well equipped to implement the Time Release Study (TRS) to reduce cargo clearance and facilitate trade in Nigeria.
Adeniyi made the disclosure during the launch of the World Customs Organisation (WCO)-Assisted Time Release Study in Lagos on Thursday.
The TRS, he said, is a strategic and internationally recognised tool developed by the World Customs Organisation for the clearance of goods from arrival until the physical release of cargo.
Adeniyi said that in 2010, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) underwent a comprehensive TRS, conducted by the USAID MARKETS Project, focusing on the Apapa Port and Seme Border.
He said that about 20 cross-cutting recommendations, including the development of an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) programme, implementation of a single window system, purchase of additional cargo handling equipment, infrastructure repairs at the ports among others, were made.
He said that a second attempt, though unsuccessful, was made in 2018 due to a lack of proper collaboration among the relevant agencies.
“Today’s exercise builds on the lessons learned from both the 2010 and 2018 attempts.
“We have made significant progress since then, including the implementation of paperless clearance and advancements in our AEO programmes.
”Provisions under the new Customs Act now speak to the imposition of penalties to deter non-compliance.
“Today, we are joining other Customs Administrations in the world that have embraced the tools developed by the World Customs Organisation (WCO) to promote the growth of international trade.
“The WCO remains steadfast in its commitment to advancing customs procedures through various instruments and tools, such as the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).
“Among these initiatives is the Time Release Study (TRS), developed to provide comprehensive insights into customs operations’ efficiency as the TRS in Nigeria, starting with TINCAN ISLAND Port, serving as the pilot location.
“The TRS method is a systematic and standardised approach used to measure the total duration of time from the arrival of goods at the customs border until their release,” Adeniyi said.
He explained that the TRS initiative represented a critical step in our ongoing efforts to optimise the trading experience and customs operations in Nigeria.
Adeniyi said for the implementation of TRS, the NCS was deploying the AEO programme, Advanced Ruling, and establishing a Customs Laboratory as part of its ongoing efforts to facilitate trade and improve government revenue.
Mr Lan Saunders, Secretary-General, WOC, said that the fulfilment of TRS was based on the WCO methodology.
He said that the system would enable Nigeria’s compliance with the requirement of Articie 7.6 of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).
“The TFA encourages WTO members to measure and publish their average release time of goods periodically and consistently.
“TRS is being conducted as a diagnostic to find bottlenecks in the trade flow process factually and to take necessary measures to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of border procedures by reducing clearance time.
“TRS is an instrument with which customs and other government agencies, along with private sector stakeholders, can measure the cross-border flow process related to imports, exports, and transit movement of goods periodically,” Saunders said.
Some of the benefits of TRS, according to him, include the improvement and strengthening of efficiency of customs administration and other government agencies, which allows all stakeholders to synergise.
He listed other benefits to include the creation of better conditions for accelerating the international movement of cargo subject to import, export, transit, or any other customs regime related to the clearance and release of cargo.
Saunders, in a Zoom presentation, said that TRS would also lead to improvement of the country’s international competitiveness in the global market and collaboration with stakeholders to enhance supply chain.
Also speaking, the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, represented by the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr Pius Akuntah, commended Customs for establishing the platform to enlightened stakeholders in trade facilitation.
Oyetola said that the customer’s TRS was a unique analysis among customs worldwide to evaluate an efficient customs clearance process.
He said that the TRS would streamlined customs procedures and improved trade facilitation.
The Minister of Finance, Mr Wale Edun, who was also represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Mrs Lydia Jafiya, said that implementation of the TRS would foster a business-friendly environment.
He said this would also assist several countries in Europe and America to be attracted to bringing cargo to Nigeria.
Edun urged stakeholders to collaborate for the successfull implementation of the TRS, which would reduce time excess cargo clearance and trade facilitation period.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs Doris Uzoka-Anite, commended the NCS for the initiatives geared towards enhancing trade and ease-of-doing-
business in Nigeria.
“I am absolutely confident they will be a great success and
Nigeria will reap their benefits through sustained economic growth in the coming years,” she said.
While encouraging stakeholders to embrace the business, Uzoka-Anite said that she was inspired to facilitate trade and increase Nigeria’s trade volume.
She said that effective trade facilitation required efficient coordination across the entire supply chain.
She added that the approach required careful planning and
collaboration across a wide range of government departments and agencies as well as close cooperation with the private sector.
”I wish to announce that we will re-launch and revitalise the National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC), where the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Invest the Nigerian Customs Service, and
many other MDAs will work.
“They will work alongside the private sector, to effectively plan and implement more successful trade facilitation reforms that will continually increase our trade volume year on year,” Usoka-Anute said.
The Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Bashir Jamoh, commended Customs for taking a bold step in changing the narrative of cargo clearance in Nigerian ports.
Jamoh said that NCS had proven that it was not too late to reduce cargo clearance in the ports with the implementation of the TRS.
He said that the TRS would enable clearing agents to understand the actual time required to release cargo at the ports.
Jamoh called for collaboration and commitment among stakeholders to remove the bottle necks affecting cargo clearance.
Another representative of WOC, Mr Stephen Muller, urged customs to report and publish the TRS operations within six months for evaluation. (NAN)
Edited by Olawunmi Ashafa