The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has clarified its pivotal role in ensuring the smooth flow of goods across borders, with a primary focus on facilitating export trade and contributing to the growth of Nigeria’s export economy.
In an interview with an NCBN correspondent on Wednesday, November 1, 2023, the Customs Area Controller of Lilypond Export Command, Comptroller Ajibola Odusanya, provided insights into the NCS procedures for facilitating export trade.
He characterized the Command as a “one-stop shop for export business,” underscoring that the current government policy mandates zero duty payment for exports. He elaborated, stating, “Exporters are not required to pay export duties, except in special cases where goods initially imported are being re-exported, in which case they are subject to a 2.5 percent levy on the current value of the goods, with government permission.”
Comptroller Odusanya also shared valuable data on the exports facilitated by the Command in the past year, highlighting the significant impact. He reported, “From January to the end of September 2023, the Command has overseen the export of 12,438 containers, comprising 6,524 20-foot containers and 5,914 40-foot containers, with a total FOB value of $518,690,852.93.”
The exported goods cover a wide range of products, including agricultural produce such as cocoa, cashew, soya, ginger, hibiscus flower (zobo leaves), cotton, sesame seeds, as well as locally manufactured items like cigarettes, cosmetic products, and beverages. Furthermore, solid minerals like aluminum, copper, magnesium, lithium, and zinc are part of the export portfolio, alongside various other commodities, such as foodstuffs and personal effects.
While stakeholders at the export terminal acknowledged the efficiency of Customs officers in processing documents, they highlighted the need for increased manpower from other government agencies stationed at the export terminal to streamline clearance processes. Comrade Augustine Umunnakwe, the Maritime Union Chairman of the Lilypond export terminal-Unit, emphasized the need for additional support, saying, “Customs Officers are efficient in terms of their work, but we face challenges with shipping companies due to the limited manpower available to assist us.”
He continued, “Government agencies are doing their work, but in terms of clearance, their representatives should be stationed here to enhance efficiency.”
Abdulsalam Babatunde, the Head of Processing Diamond Star Port and Terminal Limited, emphasized the collaborative efforts between the export processing terminal, shipping lines, and government agencies. He stated, “We facilitate the processing at the Port, work closely with major shipping lines and the terminal, and confirm bookings to ensure that goods leaving our terminal go directly to the vessel, maintaining their quality and quantity.”
“We collaborate with NPA, ETP, and Customs to ensure that we export only items that have been duly released by customs,” Babatunde added.
Emmanuel Ekle, the Principal Trade Promotion Officer at the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) Southwest, explained the seamless online registration process for exporters. He also disclosed that the Council actively supports trade promotion activities, administers export incentives, and facilitates the export expansion grant.
The Nigeria Customs Service’s commitment to facilitating exports plays a vital role in enhancing the nation’s export economy and ensuring the efficient flow of goods across its borders.