Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, has assured Nigerians of his ministry’s unwavering commitment to collaborative engagements with stakeholders in the international trade community.

Oyetola gave the assurance at the 2024 International Customs Day organised by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) with the theme: “Customs Engaging Traditional and New Partners with Purpose,” on Friday in Lagos.

He said the support was aimed at achieving a more sustainable use of ocean and coastal resources for economic growth and development.

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Oyetola noted that the Nigeria Customs Act 2023 would create a favourable environment for trade, opportunities and partnership between the public and private sectors.

“In this era of increased interdependence, customs and its stakeholders must work hand in hand to ensure the overall success of initiatives that will help unlock the immense potential of collaboration and increase revenue generation.

“At this juncture, let me commend the leadership of customs for agreeing to abandon the physical examination of cargoes at our ports and priotising the use of scanners.

“This development will not only increase revenue, it will ensure ports efficiency and competitiveness. And it will reduce drastically the cargo turnaround time,” he said.

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Earlier, the Comptroller General of Customs, Adewale Adeniyi, said the theme for the year’s celebration aligned with its core objectives and three-point agenda namely consolidation, innovation and collaboration.

Adeniyi added that the agenda had been the agency’s guiding principles over the last seven months of his administration.

He said the declaration documents reached at the recent Comptroller General of Customs conference in December 2023, after an exhaustive consultation with stakeholders, was presently undergoing implementations.

Adeniyi said the implementation of the documents would address multiple alerts, reduction of customs checkpoints and improvement in officers conduct.

“As customs do their part, we call on all stakeholders to reflect on the documents and do their part, as customs commitment to implementing this resolutions remain very firm.

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He said customs would continue to support initiatives and strengthen relationship with stakeholders towards improving efficiency at the port.

The customs boss disclosed that a Time Release Study (TRS), a significant initiative that underscores their efficiency and transparency to trade facilitation, would be launched in February.

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Adeniyi described the TRS as comprehensive exercise aimed at optimising processes and reducing the time it takes for goods to be released from the ports and border stations.

Also, Mr Ian Saunders, the Secretary-General, World Customs Organisation, noted that this year, customs would embark on a path that challenges them to both reaffirm their long-standing partnerships, and to boldly forge new alliance.

“The world has changed dramatically over the decade with unprecedented challenges, including rapid technological advances, environmental and health crises, and complex geopolitical and economic dynamics,” Saunders said.

He said the global customs community needs a forward-thing approach supported by stakeholders to tackle these unprecedented challenges.

“The theme for 2024 is a strategic call for action, everyone should broaden their perspectives, think creatively, and embrace innovative approaches,” he said.

Also speaking, Mr Mohammed Bello-Koko, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), said they were already recording gains from the renewed collaboration with customs.

Bello-Koko said the collaboration had led to noticeable reduced cargo dwell time and ship waiting time and ports decongestion.

“This collaboration also gives life to their commitment to the deployment of the Port Community System (PCS) which the NPA has propelled to the final phase of consultancy under the technical guidance of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

“The PCS is germane to promoting efficiency and making our ports competitive as it lays the groudwork for the National Single Window.

“Our commitment to positioning the Lekki Deep Seaport as transhippment hub to service the maritime needs of our landlocked neighbours will also benefit greatly from this collaboration

“This alignment of vision between NPA and Nigeria Customs Service portends great fortune for trade facilitation and national prosperity, and maximising the opportunities inherent in our littoral assets as a maritime nation rests heavily on this collaboration,” he said.

Highlights of the occasion was the Stakeholders Award given to NPA, NSC, National Association of Nigeria Licensed Agents, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, the Nigerian Union of Journalists and the Nigerian Guild of Editors, among others.