Adewale Adeniyi, the acting Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, has said that Nigerian importers will soon be able to clear their goods from the ports in Cotonou, Benin Republic.
Adeniyi disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday at the end of a two-day working visit by the director-general and senior officials of the customs service of Benin Republic.
Customs personnel from both countries entered into various agreements during the two-day meeting in order to boost trade relations between Nigeria and Benin Republic, as well as curb smuggling.
Responding to a question at the event, Adewale said, “We are building confidence in the system offered by the Republic of Benin, our importers are using their ports and vice-versa. If there are people in Benin Republic who want to use our ports, we try to build 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.
He added, “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.”