In a significant development that is poised to have far-reaching economic consequences, the Acting Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Adewale Adeniyi, announced on Tuesday that Nigerian importers will soon have the opportunity to clear their goods from the ports in Cotonou, Benin Republic. This announcement comes in the wake of a two-day working visit by the director-general and senior officials of the customs service of Benin Republic to Abuja.
During the intensive two-day meeting, customs personnel from both countries engaged in discussions and reached various agreements aimed at “boosting trade relations between Nigeria and the Benin Republic.” The primary objective of these deliberations was to foster stronger economic ties while addressing the persistent issue of smuggling along the Nigeria-Benin borders.
Adewale Adeniyi underscored the importance of building confidence in the systems offered by the Republic of Benin, stating, “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.”
One of the key implications of this agreement is that Nigerian importers who are willing to use the ports in Cotonou will have the option to clear their goods at those ports. This arrangement will allow them to pay duties on goods that are liable for duty payments within the Cotonou ports, and subsequently, these goods will be free to enter Nigeria.
Adeniyi emphasized that this process would apply to a wide range of goods beyond vehicles, likening it to the procedure followed when goods arrive through Nigerian ports such as Lagos or Port Harcourt.
However, Adeniyi acknowledged that there is work to be done to operationalize this agreement, stating, “We have agreed in principle that we can operationalize this. So, the steps that we are going to take to get to that particular destination are what we are going to be working on.”
The partnership between Nigeria and Benin Republic, aimed at facilitating the clearing of goods from Cotonou Port, is expected to have a positive impact on customs administration, trade facilitation, and regional cooperation. Adeniyi concluded, “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.”
As the implementation of this agreement unfolds, it will be closely monitored for its economic ramifications, including its effect on trade, customs revenue, and the broader economic landscape of Nigeria and the Benin Republic.