By Oyeniyi Iwakun
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has embarked on an aggressive campaign and sensitization of stakeholders on the imperativeness of getting involved in international business best practices via Authorized Economy Operators (AEO).
In its maiden seminar cum interactive session held in Lagos on Monday 30th October 2017, the Deputy Comptroller General (DCG), (SR&P), Iferi Patience while speaking with MMS Plus on the overview of the policy said the initiative was to enlighten stakeholders about global best practices, facilitate trade trade and give operators within the supply chain identity. She explained that the AEO is a build up to the fast track system because there is an economic dimension to it and it requires high degree of compliance in tandem with international standards.
According to her, integrity and transparency is germane to AEO because regular evaluation and publication of work is required and the increase in terrorism has necessitated safer ways of trade. She further explained that the World Maritime Organization (WMO) between 2005 and 2015 adopted three (3) pillars SAFE Framework of Standards to secure and facilitate Global Trade which supports Customs to Government positive response to challenges of supply chain security, etc and represents a dynamic instrument used to create a balance between trade facilitation and control, while promoting global trade chain security.
She said “AEO is a programme that was introduced by the World Customs Organization (WCO) to encourage our traders who are our stakeholder including freight forwarders, brokers, manufacturers, transporters and everybody on the supply chain to ensure that there is security and safety in the goods which they import from one country to the next country. And if we get everybody who is on board documented, it encourages trade facilitation.
“We are now going to be talking about goods been sent after the documentation and there is compliance between the trader and the rest of them. The goods will come in but would be exactly as declared and for the speedy clearance of goods because the person who sent it in is trusted and has been profiled, known and the compliance level is extremely high.
“For us to have uniformity we have to teach it from one particular angle to make sure that all of us have an agreement over what we want to do but the AEO programme is one programme that involves everybody including every stakeholders because we have to depend on each other. If we have supply chain for instance, if something is coming packaged from somewhere, somenone would do the labeling, another person will pack it into the truck before importation/exportation.”
DCG Iferi charged stakeholders to wake up and embrace the initiative as it has already been in practice in some countries for so many years.
“We want people who have integrity. We are talking simplifying your data and have everything on the website. Rwanda is celebrating many years of operating the AEO and Nigeria who claims to be giant has not started.
“We have people who want to be international businessmen, they have all it takes to export and import internationally but we are looking for groups of people that could represent Nigeria as body that will send many goods out of this country and they could come on the list, if there is data exchange between Nigeria and the next country.
While explaining that the benefits include speedy clearance, better revenue, and more secure cargo and at the end of the day Nigeria will be safer with the kind of goods they are trading on, also said those who do not comply after documentation, licenses would be seized and could even be refered to the ECOWAS Court.
“Above all what we look at in this programme is that Nigerians who are documented to carry on the base are going to step above one of the ladder when they were just local traders and now international traders with global reputation.” she concluded.
The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA)’s National Publicity Secretary, Dr. Kayode Farinto who reacted on behalf of the participants said the initiative was a good one if properly implemented but allayed fears that foreigners might hijack it. According to him, it is an indirect way of getting employment for another set of people but implored the Nigerian Customs to consider the area of security and the interest of Nigerians first.
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