NCS endorses Authorized Economic Operators to facilitate trade in the country

The Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, has endorsed an Authorized Economic Operators, AEO, program to enhance the efficiency and predictability of trade facilitation efforts in the country.

The Comptroller-General of Customs Adewale Adeniyi, during a stakeholders Meeting on Tuesday in Abuja said the program would foster collaboration between the NCS, other government agencies and experts to boost AEO programmes.

He emphasized that determination was needed to work together in ensuring that the narrative about the ease of doing business in and around Nigerian ports is improved upon.

“If you have observed, you will also see that AEO cuts across virtually every player in the sector, the exporter, the importer, the government agencies, regulatory agency, the customs and everybody in one way or the other.

“So this allows us to address some of those issues. So that when next operators talk about compiling how much it takes them, we will see data that are a little bit more friendly,” he said.

He recalled that the NCS in February 2024 launched a Time Release Study, as another measure to optimize the trading experience within Nigeria.

Assuring the stakeholders of the Service’s commitment to run the pilot program of AEO successfully, the CGC said its implementation will commence from the 15th of April 2024.

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The Customs boss also explained that the objectives of the pilot program as a course was to evaluate the visibility and effectiveness of implementing the AEO program within the Nigeria Customs Service and to solicit feedback from all key stakeholders.

“All these pilots that we want to run, we aim to identify potential challenges, fine-tune our processes, and lay the groundwork for a full-scale rollout of the AEO program,” he said, while expressing optimism that the Service will be committed to fostering transparency, inclusivity.

He noted that the program’s designs and execution align seamlessly with international standards.

Adeniyi equally mentioned that seven key legal stakeholders whose operations span across the international supply chain have been carefully selected to run the pilot scheme of the AEO program in Nigeria.

Customs endorses Authorized Economic Operators to facilitate trade in the country
Customs endorses Authorized Economic Operators to facilitate trade in the country

He urged participants to expedite their commitment to ensuring the potential of the AEO program, which would foster a culture of efficient customs processes compliance, integrity and collaboration that will propel Nigeria.

Chief Superintendent of Customs and Project Manager of the AOE, Awa Nnenna said the pilot phase of the program is designed to streamline service clearance processes while ensuring transparency and inclusivity in line with international standards.

Awa noted that the key benefits of the AEO program include expedited Customs clearance procedures and the establishment of mutual trust between Customs authorities and accredited operators.

Director-General of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, Charles Odii commended the Nigeria Customs Service for its proactive approach to engaging small-scale business owners through the program.

Odii, while reiterating his commitment towards supporting the AEO program said the initiative will contribute to the growth of Nigeria’s GDP and Foreign Exchange reserves.

He emphasized the importance of creating avenues for domestic business owners, particularly SMEs, to participate and benefit from such initiatives.

He added that the program will not only streamline trade processes but also change the narrative surrounding trade in the country, ultimately fostering a more conducive environment for business growth and development.

“What we want to do is get all the testimonials to help ease trade operations at the port and see how these will trickle down to job creation and helping to increase livelihoods of small business owners in Nigeria,” he added.

CEO of the Nigeria Shippers Council, Pius Akutah commended the NCS for the initiative and reiterated the council’s commitment towards supporting and ensuring the success of the AEO programme.

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