The Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, on Thursday launched the Time Release Study, TRS as a testament to its avowed commitment to improve customs operations and trade facilitation in Nigeria.
The launch which was witnessed by the Ministers of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun; Industry, Trade and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anite and Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, representatives of the World Customs Organization, manufacturers, freight forwarders and other well meaning Nigerians was held in Lagos, the commercial hub of the country.
In his remarks, the Comptroller General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi stated that with the launch, the Nigeria Customs Service was joining other Customs Administrations in the world that had embraced the tools developed by the World Customs Organisation (WCO), to promote the growth of international trade as according to him, WCO remained 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).
Observing that Time Release Study (TRS), was developed to provide comprehensive insights into customs operations’ efficiency, Adeniyi hinted that another significant milestone was reached as the Service commenced the TRS in Nigeria, with TINCAN ISLAND Port serving as it pilot location.
According to the CGC, the TRS method was a systematic and standardized approach used to measure the total duration of time from the arrival of goods at the customs border until their release, representing a critical step in the ongoing efforts by the Service to optimize the trading experience and customs operations in Nigeria.
“It is a strategic endeavour aimed at improving how we facilitate trade, ensuring alignment with international best practices, and contributing substantially to national development. TRS plays a crucial role in assessing and enhancing trade facilitation by providing detailed insights into the efficiency of our processes.
“Our dynamic and rapidly changing environment requires swift and adaptable responses to the needs as they arise. Adopting a scientific and datadriven approach is paramount not only for customs administrations but also for all stakeholders involved in international trade. With the complexities of modern trade, traditional evaluation methods often fall short in accurately identifying bottlenecks and inefficiencies across the entire trading environment. The TRS methodology offers a systematic and precise analysis, enabling us to identify areas for improvement with accuracy.
“This scientific approach enhances the credibility and reliability of our findings, ensuring that efforts to optimize trade facilitation are targeted and effective. Embracing these methodologies allows stakeholders to collaboratively work towards enhancing trade efficiency and promoting broader economic development.
“In response to the dynamic demands of our environment, fostering cooperation between Customs administrations (C2C) and Customs-to-Business (C2B) interactions is paramount. The WCO provides invaluable platforms for such collaboration, offering capacity building, technical assistance, and best practice sharing. With the expertise of our colleagues present, we are well equipped to support the TRS effectively”, he said.
He recalled that In 2010, the NCS underwent a comprehensive TRS conducted by the USAID MARKETS Project, focusing on the Apapa Port and Seme Border. He added that that study employed standardized methodologies and precise time analyses, offering crucial insights into the Service’s operational dynamics.
“Subsequently, some twenty cross-cutting recommendations were made, including the development of an Authorized Economic Operator, AEO program, implementation of a Single Window system, purchase of additional cargo handling equipment, infrastructure repairs at the ports, streamlining of terminal yard logistics, enforcement of truck safety standards, use of more scanners, implementation of paperless clearance, and imposition of penalties to deter non-compliance.
“A second attempt was made in 2018 to conduct another TRS exercise; however, 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 programs. Additionally, provisions under the new Customs Act now speak to the imposition of penalties to deter non-compliance.
“The need for greater collaboration, underscored by the presence of three Honourable Ministers today, is a crucial lesson learned from past exercises.
Recommendations such as the implementation of a Single Window have been longstanding, emphasizing the importance of collaborative efforts. Today’s TRS promises to take a different dimension, aligned with the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu led Administration policy targets aimed at promoting effectiveness and efficiency in all fronts, including trade facilitation and economic reform”, he further said.
Stating that several other measures had been put in place ahead of the day’s exercise, including the revitalization of the National Trade Facilitation Committee, NTFC and extensive stakeholder engagements resulting in the signing of the Lagos Continental Declaration document, he said, “We are pleased to note the timely implementation of these activities, with further evaluations scheduled at the end of the first quarter of this year.”
Noting that the NCS was aware of the impact of its operational environment on its activities, which was why it was committed to exploring ways to alleviate difficulties faced by citizens, the CGC further buttressed that through a deliberate effort to identify bottlenecks, the Service was aimed to gain a better understanding of the measures needed to resolve those issues. “By prioritizing efficiency and transparency, we endeavour to enhance the overall experience for traders and stakeholders involved in international trade”, he said.
Adeniyi continued, “The launch of the TRS in Lagos today underscores our commitment to improving customs operations and trade facilitation in Nigeria. In addition to TRS, the NCS is deploying the AEO program, Advanced Ruling, and establishing a Customs Laboratory as part of its ongoing efforts to facilitate trade and improve government revenue. These initiatives are supported by the WCO, further emphasizing our dedication to enhancing trade efficiency and promoting economic growth and national development through collaboration, innovation, and strategic measures.”
While appreciating the Secretary General (SG) of the WCO for the invaluable support, provision of resources, and expertise in advancing those initiatives, the Customs Boss averred that involvement with the WCO had been instrumental in ensuring the success of the Service efforts to modernize customs operations and enhance trade facilitation in Nigeria.
“With their guidance and assistance, we are confident in our ability to effectively implement these strategic measures and achieve our shared goals of promoting efficient and transparent trade practices for the benefit of our nation and its stakeholders. I also wish to extend our heartfelt appreciation to the heads of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, MDAs involved in the NTFC for their support. Special recognition goes to those who delegated officials to be part of the Steering committee on the implementation of the TRS. This collaborative approach holds promising potential as it strengthens our collective efforts.
“Evolving from a Customs-driven TRS to a nationally driven engagement open doors to collaborative brainstorming and idea-sharing among stakeholders. Furthermore, this approach serves to bolster our internal capacity, as successful implementation at TINCAN Island Port can pave the way for replication in other ports across the country.
Concluding, he said, “Your support and collaboration are invaluable as we work towards achieving our shared goals of enhancing trade facilitation and driving economic prosperity for Nigeria. Let us move forward with determination and unity, guided by the principles of efficiency, transparency, and collaboration. Together, we can overcome challenges, seize opportunities, and build a brighter future for our nation.”
Photo: Mr. Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, Comptroller General of Customs.
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