Nigerian importers will soon be able to clear their goods from the ports in Cotonou, Benin Republic. The announcement came from the acting Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Adewale Adeniyi, following a two-day working visit by the director-general and senior officials of the customs service of Benin Republic.
During the intensive discussions, customs personnel from both nations entered into several agreements, signifying a commitment to strengthen trade ties between Nigeria and Benin Republic. These agreements will not only foster better trade relations but also facilitate the legitimate movement of goods while cracking down on illegal activities.
Adewale Adeniyi stated, “We are building confidence in the system offered by the Republic of Benin, our importers are using their ports and vice-versa. If there are people in Benin Republic who want to use our ports, we try to build trust in our systems.”
Under this landmark agreement, Nigerian importers will have the option to utilize the ports in Cotonou for the clearance of their goods. Duties on eligible goods can be assessed and paid at the Cotonou ports, with the freedom to enter Nigeria once the duties are accounted for at the point of arrival.
Adeniyi addressed concerns regarding vehicle smuggling, stating, “It goes beyond vehicles. Any goods arriving in Cotonou ports, duty can be accessed and payment can be made, and from there, it comes into the Nigerian territory. It is just like what happens when goods come in through Lagos or Port Harcourt; it is pretty much the same.”
However, he acknowledged that specific operational details are yet to be finalized, saying, “We have agreed in principle that we can operationalize this. So the steps that we are going to take to get us to that particular destination is what we are going to be working on.”
This partnership between Nigeria and Benin Republic marks a significant milestone in strengthening customs administration, trade facilitation, and regional cooperation within the West African region. Adeniyi emphasized, “The occasion we celebrate today marks a significant milestone in our journey to strengthen collaboration, eliminate barriers, and promote legitimate trade within the West African region.”
This historic agreement is expected to open new doors for Nigerian importers and enhance trade relations between the two nations while reinforcing efforts to combat smuggling and promote transparency in customs processes.