Nigeria takes important step towards introducing advance rulings

Nigeria Customs advances TFA implementation

The latest in a series of initiatives designed to support trade facilitation in Nigeria took place recently when the Alliance organised a workshop to advise the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on how to go about introducing a robust advance rulings mechanism.

As part of its broader trade facilitation strategy, the NCS had identified the introduction of advance rulings as a priority and requested Alliance support. As a result, the workshop brought together 25 officers from different branches and disciplines within NCS, including IT, legal and operations, to kick-start work on the requisite regulatory, procedural, and organisational framework.

The two-day workshop held in Abuja from 14-16 November also provided first-hand knowledge on digitalising the process and on producing the necessary training and change management practices to encourage private sector uptake.

Prior to import or export, advance rulings give traders the right to request a written legal opinion on how Customs will treat their goods. This opinion is binding on both Customs and the operator, uniformly applied, and valid for a certain period, usually several years.

Reducing discretionary decision-making enhances predictability and transparency, lowers the time and cost of trade, and strengthens relationships between Customs and the private sector.

In  implementing its project in Nigeria, the Alliance has sought to support the country in fulfilling its commitments under the WTO TFA, encouraging measures to streamline trade by improving border co-operation and simplifying documentation.

The Alliance has amassed considerable expertise and experience in introducing advance rulings through successful projects in Colombia and Madagascar, with ongoing work taking place in Tunisia.