Customs sensitises Imo businessmen, stakeholders on promotion of international trade facilities

By Chidi Opara

Owerri –  The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) says it is sensitising the business community on the need for Nigeria to have Authorised Economic Operators (AEO) to promote international trade as practised globally.

NCS made the promise at a one-day sensitisation workshop on “Authorised Economic Operators/WCO Working Group (AEO)” which was organised by the Service in conjunction with the World Customs Organisation (WTO) on Thursday for stakeholders in Imo.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the workshop was organised by the Imo/Abia Command of the NCS in Owerri.

Mrs Lynda Mark, a Deputy Comptroller and Team Leader, Authorised Economic Operations Zone ‘A’, said the workshop was to promote trade and effective control of businesses through legal provisions.

She said that the rise in volume of trade between and among countries and the changing trends in supply chain had made it imperative for customs to review its role in international trade.

Mark said that while businesses were interested in maximising their profit and time through lesser physical intervention in supply chain, the customs was concerned about national security, revenue generation and the government.

“To strike a balance between the focus of business community and the objective of customs administration, there must be collaboration.

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“AEO provides this collaboration in three pillars: customs to customs, customs to business and customs to government,” she said.

According to her, part of the collaboration necessitate the workshop to sensitise the business community on the need for authorised economic operators.

Mark defined AEO as a party involved in the international movement of goods that has been approved by or on behalf of a national customs administration as complying with the WCO or equivalent supply chain security standards.

“It is the belief of the NCS management that those that would be involved should be invited for discussion so that opinions, suggestions and observations would be considered before the final selections of operators.

“In the opinion of the management, the success of this programme depends on the amount of input by the stakeholders since voluntary compliance would be engendered through elimination of apathy, anxieties and apprehension,” she said.

Patience Iteri, also a Deputy Comptroller General (SR&P), who spoke on “Strategising Sale and AEO for Nigeria”, said that WCO Council Session in 2005 adopted the Safe Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade.

Iferi, who was represented by Mr Mamu Bangangida, a Deputy Comptroller of Cutoms, said checking through every trade item during goods examination was bound to halt world trade.

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She said safe framework of standard was aimed at providing certainty and predictability at the global level for business men and women and encouraging integrated and harmonised supply chain management in spite of the mode of transportation.

She said AEO would also strengthen operations between customs and business agencies, operations between customs and government agencies as well as promote seamlessness through secure borders internationally.

Mrs Grace Emejuru, the Director General, Owerri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, on behalf of the participants, suggested that there should be more of programme and good implementation.

He said the success of the programme would encourage more people, who were afraid to delve into business, to enter into it with no fear of customs and other agencies.

Emejuru said it would also help the states, in particular and Nigeria in general, to move forward in terms of international trade.

NAN reports that participants at the programme included NAFDAC, Nigeria Shippers Council, Owerri Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Raw Materials and Research Institute in Owerri as well as other organisations. (NAN)

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