During their visit, the Acting CGC and his team commenced their engagements by meeting with Ambassador Kayode Aluko, who represents Nigeria as the Ambassador to the Republic of Benin at the Nigerian Embassy.
Subsequently, they were warmly received by Mr. Alain Hinkati, the Director General of Benin’s Customs Administration, along with representatives from Customs partners Webb Fontaine and Benin Control.
To gain firsthand knowledge of the operations, the delegation visited the Customs facilities at the port of Cotonou, where they were given a comprehensive overview of the port’s processes and activities.
Throughout the visit, fruitful discussions were held with stakeholders from both countries, wherein various concerns were brought to the forefront and given due consideration.
One notable issue raised was the request to explore the possibility of reopening the border, alongside addressing the matter of administrative charges.
The primary objective of this visit, as stated by the Acting CGC, was to strengthen collaboration between the two nations in areas that would be mutually beneficial and foster positive outcomes.
He said, “The objective of the visit is for us to review friendship with the customs administration of Benin and also to deepen collaborations in areas of common interest”.
“I saw the attention that was given to the port of Cotonou, the progress that is being made in reducing clearance time, ensuring that there is no congestion at the Port and, more importantly, using technology to drive operations of the Customs Administration”, he said.
“The attempt which Benin Customs has done towards trade facilitation is something that Nigeria Customs will also be doing particularly to look at where we can use our processes to reduce the cost and time of doing business.”
At the conclusion of the meeting, both delegations signed a joint communique outlining their commitments and objectives as follows:
Continuing efforts to promote the ECOWAS trade liberalization scheme and facilitate the movement of goods and community products, with a specific focus on:
A. Streamlining the issuance of Laisse passe for short stays in each other’s countries for means of transport registered in either country. b. Eliminating barriers and obstacles to legitimate trade, and establishing Customs units when necessary based on traffic volume. c. Ensuring strict adherence to transit rules. d. Harmonizing the list of prohibited products between the two countries.
B. Swiftly integrating Nigeria into the Interconnected System for the Management of Goods in Transit (SIGMAT), which already includes the Customs Administrations of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo.
C. Enhancing the fight against cross-border crime through increased cooperation, intelligence sharing, and pooling of resources.
D. Scheduling bi-annual meetings to discuss matters of common interest.
E. Reactivating the joint committee responsible for monitoring trade and transit relations.
F. Reviving consultation frameworks involving border customs units and actively engaging the private sector in these discussions.
G. Fostering positive relations with border communities, emphasizing professionalism and tax compliance.
E. Ensuring the security of the international supply chain.
In addition to the official meeting, the Ag. CGC and his delegation held a private meeting with His Excellency Mr. Patrice TALON, the President of the Republic of Benin on Sunday, 23rd of July. During this meeting, both parties expressed their desire to initiate a new era of close collaboration in all areas