By Innocent Orok
The Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service ( NCS) , Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, has said that the Service is fully prepared to implement the Time Release Study (TRS) in the country to reduce cargo clearance time and facilitate trade in Nigeria.
Adeniyi made the disclosure during the launching of the World Customs Organisation (WCO), assisted Time Release Study in Lagos on Thursday.
According to him, TRS is a strategic and internationally recognised tool developed by the World Customs Organisation for the clearance of goods from arrival until the physical release of cargo.
Adeniyi said that in 2010, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) underwent a comprehensive TRS, conducted by the USAID Markets Project, focusing on the Apapa Port and Seme Border.
He said that some 20 cross-cutting recommendations were made, including the development of an Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) programme, implementation of a Single Window System, purchase of additional cargo handling equipment, infrastructure repairs at the ports among others.
Adeniyi said that a second attempt was made in 2018 to conduct another TRS exercise, adding that it was unsuccessful due to the lack of proper collaboration among the relevant agencies.
“Today’s exercise builds on the lessons learned from both the 2010 and 2018 attempts.We have made significant progress since then, including the implementation of paperless clearance and advancements in our AEO programmes.
“Provisions under the new Customs Act now speak to the imposition of penalties to deter non-compliance.Today, we are joining other Customs Administrations in the world that have embraced the tools developed by the World Customs Organisation (WCO), to promote the growth of international trade.
“The WCO remains steadfast in its commitment to advancing customs procedures through various instruments and tools, such as the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).
“Among these initiatives is the Time Release Study (TRS), developed to provide comprehensive insights into customs operations’ efficiency as the TRS in Nigeria, starting with Tin Can Island Port, serving as the pilot location.
“The TRS method is a systematic and standardised approach used to measure the total duration of time from the arrival of goods at the customs border until their release,” Adeniyi said.
He explained that TRS initiative represented a critical step in our ongoing efforts to optimise the trading experience and customs operations in Nigeria.
Adeniyi said for implementation of TRS, the NCS was deploying the AEO programme, Advanced Ruling, and establishing a Customs Laboratory as part of its ongoing efforts to facilitate trade and improve government revenue.
Earlier, the Secretary -General WOC, Mr. Lan Saunders, noted that the fulfillment of TRS was based on the WCO methodology. He said that it would enable Nigeria to comply with the requirement of Article 7.6 of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, TFA.
The TFA encourages WTO members to measure and publish their average release time of goods periodically and consistently.
“TRS is being conducted as a diagnostic to find bottlenecks in the trade flow process factually and to take necessary measures to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of border procedures by reducing clearance time.
“TRS is an instrument with which Customs and other government agencies, along with private sector stakeholders, can measure the cross-border flow process related to imports, exports, and transit movement of goods periodically,” Saunders said.
He highlighted some of the benefits of TRS to include: improving and strengthening the efficiency of Customs administrations and other government agencies, allows Customs and other stakeholders to explore synergies.
He said that other benefits were; creating better conditions for accelerating the international movement of cargo subject to import, export, transit, or any other Customs regime related to the clearance and release of cargo.
Saunders in a Zoom presentation said that TRS would also Leads to improving the Country’s international Competitiveness in the global market as well as collaborating with stakeholders to enhance the supply chain.
The Minister of Finance and Coordinator of the Economy, Mr. Wale Edun, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Mrs. Lydia Jafiya, said that implementation of the TRS would foster a business friendly environment whereby several countries in Europe and America would be a attracted to bring cargo to Nigeria.
Edun seeks stakeholders collaboration in achieving success in the implementation of the TRS which would reduce time of doing cargo clearance and trade facilitation.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs. Doris Uzoka-Anite, commended the NCE for the fantastic initiatives geared towards enhancing trade and ease of doing business in Nigeria.
“I am absolutely confident they will be a great success and Nigeria will reap their benefit through sustained economic growth in the coming years,” she said.
Uzoka-Anite said that she was inspired to do more to facilitate trade and increased Nigeria’s trade volume, she also she encouraged stakeholders to join her in the business.
She said that effective trade facilitation required efficient coordination across the entire supply chain.
She added that the approach required careful planning and collaboration across a wide number of government departments and agencies as well as close cooperation with the private sector.
Uzoka Anite said, “I wish to announce that we will Re-launch and Revitalise the National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) where the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment, the Nigerian Customs Service, and many other MDAs will work alongside the private sector to effectively plan and implement more successful trade facilitation reforms that will continually increase our trade volume year on year.”