Determined to promote the ECOWAS trade liberalisation scheme and facilitate the movement of goods between the countries, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), signed a communiqué with the Customs of the Republic of Benin to facilitate trade.
According to the communiqué, both countries agreed to facilitate the issue of Laisse passe for a short stay in one of the countries as means of transport registered in the other country.
They also agreed to remove barriers and other obstacles to legitimate trade and establish Customs units when the traffic justifies it.
Also, the two countries decided to ensure strict compliance with transit rules; harmonise the list of products prohibited by the two countries and carry out rapid integration of Nigeria into the Interconnected System for the Management of Goods in Transit (SIGMAT), which already includes the Customs Administrations of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.
Both countries further settled to strengthen the fight against cross-border crime through cooperation, intelligence sharing and the pooling of resources, and to hold meetings twice a year to discuss matters of common interest.
“The reactivation of the joint committee for monitoring trade and transit relations; the revival of consultation frameworks of border customs units with the active participation of the private sector; and the promotion of good relations with border populations, professionalism and tax compliance.
According to the communiqué, both countries will work towards securing the international supply chain.
Adewale Adeniyi, acting comptroller-general of Customs, signed the communiqué on behalf of Nigeria during a visit to the Nigerian Embassy to meet Kayode Aluko, the Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of Benin, and Alain Hinkati, the director general of the Customs Administration in Benin, Customs partners Webb Fontaine and Benin Control.
Adeniyi said the objective was to review friendships with Benin’s Customs administration and expand collaborations in areas of common interest.
“We saw the attention that was given to the Port of Cotonou, the progress that is being made in reducing clearance time, ensuring that there is no congestion at the port and, most importantly, the use of technology to drive operations of the Customs administration.
“The attempt which Benin Customs has done towards trade facilitation is something that Nigeria Customs will also be doing particularly to look at where we can use our processes to reduce the cost and time of doing business,” he said.
Trade between Nigeria and the Benin Republic suffered a setback in August 2019 after Nigeria’s government under then President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, ordered the closure of the nation’s land borders.
However, Buhari ordered the reopening of the first four land borders including Seme, Illela, Maigatari and Mfun in December 2020.