Launch of Time Release Study Underscores our commitment to Improving Customs Operations–Adeniyi

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Launch of Time Release Study Underscores our commitment to Improving Customs Operations–Adeniyi

Comptroller General of Customs

Distinguished Guests, I extend my sincere gratitude to each of you for gracing us with your presence today here in Lagos, the nerve center of Customs operations. Your presence underscores our shared commitment to enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of our customs operations. We value your time and active participation in this pivotal initiative, which holds significant implications for the future of Customs operations.

Today we are joining other Customs Administrations in the world that have
embraced the tools developed by the World Customs Organisation (WCO), to promote the growth of international trade. The WCO remains steadfast in its commitment to advancing customs procedures through various instruments and tools, such as the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). Among these
initiatives is the Time Release Study (TRS), developed to provide comprehensive
insights into customs operations’ efficiency.

Another significant milestone is reached today as we commence the TRS in Nigeria, with TINCAN ISLAND Port serving as our pilot location. The TRS method is a systematic and standardized approach used to measure the total duration of time from the arrivalof goods at the customs border until their release.

This initiative represents a critical step in our ongoing efforts to optimize the trading experience and customs operations in Nigeria. It is a strategic endeavour
aimed at improving how we facilitate trade, ensuring alignment with international
best practices, and contributing substantially to national development. TRS plays a crucial role in assessing and enhancing trade facilitation by providing detailed insights into the efficiency of our processes.

Our dynamic and rapidly changing environment requires swift and adaptable responses to the needs as they arise. Adopting a scientific and data driven approach is paramount not only for customs administrations but also for all stakeholders involved in international trade. With the complexities of modern
trade, traditional evaluation methods often fall short in accurately identifying
bottlenecks and inefficiencies across the entire trading environment. The TRS
methodology offers a systematic and precise analysis, enabling us to identify areas for improvement with accuracy. This scientific approach enhances the
credibility and reliability of our findings, ensuring that efforts to optimize trade
facilitation are targeted and effective. Embracing these methodologies allows
stakeholders to collaboratively work towards enhancing trade efficiency and
promoting broader economic development.

In response to the dynamic demands of our environment, fostering cooperation between Customs administrations (C2C) and Customs to Business (C2B) interactions is paramount. The WCO provides invaluable platforms for such collaboration, offering capacity building, technical assistance, and best practice sharing. With the expertise of our colleagues present, we are well equipped to support the TRS effectively.

Reflecting on the historical implementation of TRS in Nigeria adds depth to our understanding of its significance. In 2010, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) underwent a comprehensive TRS conducted by the USAID MARKETS
Project, focusing on the Apapa Port and Seme Border. This study employed
standardized methodologies and precise time analyses, offering crucial insights
into our operational dynamics.

Subsequently, some twenty cross-cutting
recommendations were made, including the development of an Authorized
Economic Operator (AEO) program, implementation of a Single Window system, purchase of additional cargo handling equipment, infrastructure repairs at the ports, streamlining of terminal yard logistics, enforcement of truck safety
standards, use of more scanners, implementation of paperless clearance, and imposition of penalties to deter non-compliance.

A second attempt was made in 2018 to conduct another TRS exercise; however, it was unsuccessful due to the lack of proper collaboration among the
relevant agencies. Today’s exercise builds on the lessons learned from both the
2010 and 2018 attempts. We have made significant progress since then, including
the implementation of paperless clearance and advancements in our AEO programs. Additionally, provisions under the new Customs Act now speak to the
imposition of penalties to deter non-compliance.

The need for greater collaboration, underscored by the presence of three
Honourable Ministers today, is a crucial lesson learned from past exercises.
Recommendations such as the implementation of a Single Window have been longstanding, emphasizing the importance of collaborative efforts. Today’s TRS promises to take a different dimension, aligned with the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu led Administration policy targets aimed at promoting effectiveness and efficiency in all fronts, including trade facilitation and economic reform.

Several other measures have been put in place ahead of today’s exercise, including the revitalization of the National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC)
and extensive stakeholder engagements resulting in the signing of the Lagos
Continental Declaration Document. We are pleased to note the timely implementation of these activities, with further evaluations scheduled at the end of the first quarter of this year.

NCS is keenly aware of the impact of its operational environment on its activities, which is why we are committed to exploring ways to alleviate difficulties faced by citizens. Through a deliberate effort to identify bottlenecks, we aim to gain a better understanding of the measures needed to resolve these issues. By prioritizing efficiency and transparency, we endeavour to enhance the overall experience for traders and stakeholders involved in international trade.

The launch of the TRS in Lagos today underscores our commitment to
improving customs operations and trade facilitation in Nigeria. In addition to TRS, the NCS is deploying the AEO program, Advanced Ruling, and establishing a Customs Laboratory as part of its ongoing efforts to facilitate trade and improve government revenue. These initiatives are supported by the WCO, further emphasizing our dedication to enhancing trade efficiency and promoting economic growth and national development through collaboration, innovation, and strategic measures.

We extend our sincere gratitude to the Secretary General (SG) of the WCO for the invaluable support, provision of resources, and expertise in advancing these initiatives.

Involvement with the WCO has been instrumental in ensuring the success of our efforts to modernize customs operations and enhance trade facilitation in Nigeria. With their guidance and assistance, we are confident in our
ability to effectively implement these strategic measures and achieve our shared goals of promoting efficient and transparent trade practices for the benefit of our nation and its stakeholders. I also wish to extend our heartfelt appreciation to the heads of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) involved in the NTFC for their support.

Special recognition goes to those who delegated officials to be part of the Steering committee on the implementation of the TRS. This collaborative approach holds promising potential as it strengthens our collective efforts. Evolving from a Customs-driven TRS to a Nationally driven engagement open doors to collaborative brainstorming and idea-sharing among stakeholders. Furthermore, this approach serves to bolster our internal capacity, as successful implementation at TINCAN Island Port can pave the way for replication in other ports across the country.

In closing, I would like to express my gratitude once again to all distinguished guests for your presence and participation in this significant event. Your support and collaboration are invaluable as we work towards achieving our shared goals of enhancing trade facilitation and driving economic prosperity for Nigeria.

Let us move forward with determination and unity, guided by the principles of efficiency, transparency, and collaboration. Together, we can overcome challenges, seize opportunities, and build a brighter future for our nation.

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