Nigeria, Benin Republic move to facilitate trade through bilateral connectivity

CG Customs Hameed Ali

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Customs administration in Benin Republic have agreed to establish a bilateral connectivity aimed at facilitating trade and ensuring seamless trade transaction between both countries.

Speaking at a stakeholders sensitization workshop at Seme border on Tuesday, Assistant Comptroller General of Customs in charge of ICT,  Benjamin Aber, said the agreement, when fully implemented will help address security challenges, prevent revenue losses and curb smuggling along the borders.

He explained that under the new system, declarations made for import transiting from either country will be electronically shared.

This, he said will help create a win-win situation for both countries to achieve coordinated border management where the two Customs administration will use a single platform to handle trade transactions.

According to him, “It is not good for us in this modern time to be doing things manual when we have opportunity to leverage on technology that will assist us to streamline and harmonise processes that can seamlessly assist us in harvesting the opportunity of trade between these corridors.

“This is why we called the stakeholders that the Nigeria and Benin Customs have agreed to harmonise their business processes of temporary or transit import into Nigeria and export into Benin and to make sure that the process is done once. This means any truck that leaves Benin Republic, the information is already remotely sent in English to Nigeria Customs Service’s system.”

Highlighting the benefits of the bilateral connectivity, Aber said, “Henceforth, there will be single declaration to be used by both countries. The system is predictably transparent. It will deal with corrupt tendencies and ensures accurate revenue generation. 

“Insecurity will be addressed as the new system will include the deployment of non-intrusive equipment such as scanners, which will help deal with the challenges of trans-border crimes including insurgencies. 

“The electronic platform will integrate the two countries single windows trade platforms and also improve the compliance to trade regulatory and fiscal policy measures of both countries. 

“This platform will create effective, predictable and transparent risk management system and reduction in smuggling activities.”

The Customs boss, while urging stakeholders to ensure total compliance to achieve seamless trade transaction, allayed their fears that the system may be hacked.

The Director General of Benin Customs, Sacca Charles, affirmed his country’s readiness to respect the terms of the agreement especially as it pertains to information sharing.

He said the moves for achieving the initiative began 15 years ago when leaders of both countries initiated it. 

“This forum is about sharing and knowing responsibilities to improve our incomes as various economies. This is a model initiative that will draw attention to Krake/Seme.

“It will be an example for other Customs administrations to copy from. We should continue as partners in building better economies for our two countries,” Charles said. 

The connectivity platform is expected to be launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on June 20.