Licensed customs agents task FG on import, export reforms

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Matthew Otoijagha

A maritime expert and President, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero, has urged the Federal Government to urgently institute reforms to address the challenges on import, export and transit regulatory procedures that affected Nigeria’s ranking in Trading across Borders (TAD) on Ease of Doing Business.

TAD on Ease of Doing Business, ranked Nigeria 183 out of 190 countries. In the report, Nigeria also took the last position among the 17 West African countries while its listed Mali on the 85th position out of 190 and first in Africa followed by Gambia, which came second on the continent and 105th position in the world.

Amiwero, in a letter to the Presidency said Nigeria’s import, export, regulatory and transit procedures is faced with lengthy, cumbersome procedures associated with unnecessary delays, high transaction cost and increase of cargo dwell time, which makes the nation’s ports the most expensive in the globe, based on verifiable information.

He said that the reform would be targeted at implementing an integrated set policies and procedures that are globally acceptable which will ensure effective trade facilitation by the reduction of transaction cost, cargo dwell time and ensure safety and security of our processes.

Amiwero noted that the process of multiple alerts should be harmonized and complied with international best practice on a One-stop-Shop as contained in WCO revised Kyoto Convention that compelled contracting parties to harmonize and simplified their procedure to remove complexities.

He also pointed out that the Federal Operation Unit (FOU) of the Nigeria Customs Service should be streamlined and concentrated on the anti-smuggling activities 40 miles radius from the port in line with its formation, adding that all import process should be conducted in the port as One-stop-shop process and eliminate the double examination, delays, demurrage and the offloading of goods at FOU, which he said amounted to additional cost to the importer and customs agents.

“The poor rating of Nigeria can be seen from the identified challenges associated with the import-export, regulatory and transit procedures that is encumbered with lengthy and cumbersome procedure, which resulted to our present ranking of 183 from 190 countries.

“There is the urgent need to constitute a committee of trade procedure experts, reform specialist and professional, as taskforce to address the challenges urgently”, he said.

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