With the establishment of Export Processing Terminals (EPTs) and the use of an electronic call-up system for truck batching into the port, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), has started facilitating export trade originating from Nigeria in line with the Federal Government’s economic diversification drive.
EPTs and the electronic call-up system have helped to eliminate middlemen, who hijack and rent-seek from the chaos created by the bottlenecks limiting export trade in Nigeria, according to a source close to the NPA, who does not want his name in print.
The source said that those persons worked against the introduction of changes that could sanitise Nigeria’s export value chain, adding that the development dismantled middlemen who have held the Nigerian export community captive over the past several years.
But the management of the NPA recently called for greater understanding among stakeholders, pointing out that the current export regime would bring stability to the logistics surrounding the arrival of exports to Nigerian ports and the shipment of export boxes out of the country.
They said with the EPTs, the NPA is deploying a similar strategy used in addressing the gridlock along the port corridor and the Authority is confident that the end result will benefit genuine Nigerian exporters.
Calling on the export terminals to support the NPA’s efforts in creating the enabling environment that will scale up Nigeria’s export, Mohammed Bello-Koko, the managing director of the NPA, said the EPTs are certified as pre-gates where export goods will be sorted, inspected, certified, sealed, and escorted by Customs to the port, and the goods would no longer be examined by Customs at the port.
This, analysts said, represents an improvement in Nigeria’s export procedure and will have a cost-effective impact on exporters.
“The integration of the electronic call-up system with the EPT regime and the successful collaboration between the Authority and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), in the management of EPTs, have helped to actualise the target. The proposed integration of the CBN NXP procedures with the EPTs has started sending jitters to middlemen and those who have hitherto hijacked an important aspect of the export value chain. For genuine exporters, there are temporary teething problems on the EPTs that would soon be overcome,” the NPA source assured.
He further said that the terminals will ensure efficient logistics procedures for export, facilitate export by ensuring that Nigerian export meet best practices as well as provide a regulated environment for quality control, product inspection certification and documentation.
The intention is to ensure the timely turnaround of Nigeria’s export trade by ensuring the requisite Customs sealing and that other regulatory endorsements for onward departure for shipment.
BusinessDay understands that as part of efforts to support the government’s agro-export drive, the Nigerian Ports Authority took steps to improve the logistics surrounding the inflow of export boxes into the ports including the loading and shipping of such export cargoes.
In addition to this, the Federal Government established a dedicated Customs command to coordinate the processing of export cargo at the EPTs from where any cargo cleared for shipment would access the port without interference or hindrance from any government agencies including Customs until the cargo is shipped, except where there is credible intelligence to the contrary.
The EPT facilities are equipped with requisite equipment for weighing, Customs examination, stuffing, and storage. Due to the space constraints at the main ports, which have exceeded their ‘as-built capacity’ for cargo handling, especially for ports in the Lagos area, the Export Processing Terminals were conceptualised to transfer all handling procedures in the ports to the export terminals.
Aside from the Customs, the CBN plays a crucial role in the export documentation process and there is an ongoing collaboration between the CBN and the Authority for an Electronic Data Interchange for documentation validation to ensure hitch-free processing of export logistics.
This ensures all export cargoes would have met the CBN NXP requirement for forex declaration and repatriation back into the economy.
As a new initiative, which may experience some challenges, the Authority is in continuous stakeholders’ engagement to allow for familiarisation with the policy. Shipping lines have also been mandated to establish an electronic interface with the EPTs, with a view to deploying available spaces and boxes to be picked by the particular voyage.