New Collaborative Project Aims to Streamline Trade Procedures in Nigeria

Trade facilitation initiative in Lagos will target burdensome processes to cut time, costs.

Businesses in Nigeria will benefit from more streamlined border processes and lower trade-related costs as the result of a new project launched by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation.

The project will partner with the Nigerian government, local businesses, and associations to identify the sources of delays at border controls in Lagos and apply solutions, including simplifying processes and training border agency staff in improved techniques. The project’s first stage will focus on air cargo clearances at Murtala Muhammed Airport and build on that experience in progressing to sea freight handling at Lagos Port.

NCS and the Alliance, with GIZ as an implementing partner, will work together through this project to advance the application of the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement in Nigeria. The Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali, and Ludwig Kirchner, the Coordinator of GIZ Nigeria – ECOWAS Cluster, signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize the cooperation at the NCS headquarters in Abuja.

To ensure the project will deliver the greatest impact, the Alliance laid the groundwork by asking representatives from both the public and private sectors to identify priority sectors that would most benefit from streamlined trade processes. These talks included the NCS, the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, other border agencies, businesses, and business associations. As a result, the project will initially focus on exports of processed leather, edible fruits, and chemicals/pharmaceuticals, as well as imports of pharmaceuticals, electronics, and industrial spare parts.

Allowing businesses, including local small and medium enterprises, to play a part in driving reform will strengthen the relationship between government and the private sector, based on a culture of cooperation for an improved trade environment.

Hameed Ibrahim Ali, Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Services, said: “It is a welcome idea and gesture, and we are very happy to have you onboard. We need to keep officers in tune with the current global practices so that we can contribute effectively to trade facilitation in the global sector. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you once again on behalf of the Nigerian custom service, for your commitment to assisting us to better perform our own aspect of our duties.”

Philippe Isler, Director of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, said: “While documentation and inspections are key for ensuring that businesses comply with the rules, they can impede trade by making it more time consuming and costly. Implementing the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement by simplifying border processes cuts the time and costs of trade, in turn unlocking inclusive growth and unlocking real gains for the government, businesses, and consumers.

“Looking ahead, efficient border processes will make doing business in Nigeria more internationally competitive, which will benefit small and medium local businesses in particular and create new jobs. We look forward to working with Nigeria Customs Services as well as local traders to cut the red tape, saving them time, and reducing their costs.”

GIZ’s Kirchner emphasized that the collaboration between the public and the private sector will offer several benefits to the NCS and its role in trade facilitation. “The private sector will play an important role in the implementation of the project by providing trade expertise and feedback. Through the facilitation of public-private dialogues, stakeholders can take part in shaping trade facilitation reforms and thereby ensure a meaningful and effective outcome.”

The project in Nigeria is the latest in the Alliance’s portfolio of work to support developing and least developed countries in implementing the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement through the public and private sectors working together.