The acting Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Adewale Adeniyi, announced on Tuesday that Nigerian importers would soon have the opportunity to “clear their goods from the ports in Cotonou, Benin Republic.”
This announcement took place in Abuja following a two-day working visit by the director-general and senior officials of the customs service of Benin Republic.
During the two-day meeting, customs personnel from both countries engaged in discussions and reached various agreements aimed at “boosting trade relations between Nigeria and the Benin Republic” while also addressing the issue of smuggling.
- Addressing questions at the event, Adewale emphasized, “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.”
He went on to explain the implications of the agreement, stating,
- “And by 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.”
He further clarified,
- “We can account for the duties on those goods in the ports of arrival. So they will now be free to enter Nigeria.”
Smuggling in the Nigeria-Benin borders
- When addressing concerns related to vehicle smuggling, Adewale noted, “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.”
He likened this process to the one used when goods arrive through Lagos or Port Harcourt, emphasizing the similarities.
However, he acknowledged that there is work to be done to make this operational, saying,
- “We have agreed in principle that we can operationalize this. So, the steps that we are going to take to get to that particular destination are 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.”
Impact of the partnership
Adewale also highlighted the positive impact of the partnership between the two nations, stating that it 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.”