Customs to commence AEO fast-track goods clearance scheme


By Abiodun OBA


The Nigeria Customs Service is to roll out the implementation of the fast-track goods clearance scheme code-named Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) 5 programme in one month.

The Comptroller-General of Customs (CGC) Adewale Adeniyi who disclosed this at a stakeholders Meeting, in Abuja explained that the programme would foster collaboration between Customs, Other Government Agencies (OGAs) and experts to expedite clearance of goods imported into the country.

Adeniyi said NCS was determined to work with agencies of government and all other stakeholders at the ports to change the narrative about the ease of doing business in and around Nigerian ports.

According to him, “If you have observed, you will see that AEO cuts across virtually every player in the sector, the exporter, the importer, the government agencies, regulatory agency, the customs and everybody in one way or the other.

“So, this allows us to address some of those issues. So that when next operators talk about compiling how much it takes them, we will see data that are a little bit more friendly.

“We are taking the steps with you with the implementation of the Authorised Economic Operator program, which hopefully will start from the 15th of April 2024.”

He said NCS launched a Time Release Study (TRS) last month as another measure to optimise the trading experience in Nigeria.

The CGC explained that the objectives of the pilot programme were to evaluate the visibility and effectiveness of implementing the AEO program within the Nigeria Customs Service and to solicit feedback from all our key stakeholders.

He said, “All these pilots that we want to run, we aim to identify potential challenges, fine-tune our processes, and lay the groundwork for a full-scale rollout of the AEO program.”

Adeniyi expressed optimism that the Service will be committed to fostering transparency, inclusivity and collaboration while ensuring that the program’s designs and execution align seamlessly with international standards.

He said, “Why we do this is we want to remain attuned to the unique realities of our local context.

“Seven key stakeholders that are legal entities whose operations span across the international supply chain have been carefully selected by the pilot programs.”

Those selected, according to the NCS boss were Importers, Exporters, Small and Medium Enterprises, Customs Licence Agents, Logistics Operators, and Government Agencies as pilot stakeholders to run the pilot scheme of the AEO programme in Nigeria.

“This is a collective and transformative journey we must come together with renewed determination. Knowing that together we can shape a future that knows no boundaries and prosperity with no limits,” he said.

Awa Nnenna, Chief Superintendent of Custom and Project Manager of the AEO programme said the pilot phase was designed to streamline Customs clearance processes while ensuring transparency and inclusivity in line with international standards.

Awa noted that the key benefits of the AEO program include expedited Customs clearance procedures and the establishment of mutual trust between Customs authorities and accredited operators.

“By facilitating smoother trade operations, the programme aims to stimulate economic growth,” the Project Manager assured.

Mr Pius Akutah, CEO of the Nigeria Shippers Council, commended the NCS for the initiative and assured that the council would support the programme to be successful.

Mr. Charles Odii, Director-General of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), expressed confidence that AEO would significantly contribute to the growth of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Foreign Exchange reserves.

An ARO is a party involved in the international movement of goods in whatever function that has been approved by or on behalf of a national Customs administration as complying with World Customs Organisation (WCO) or equivalent supply chain security standards.

The NCS decided to introduce the programme to make it easier and faster to clear goods at the ports and address smuggling of arms and ammunition into Nigeria, as well as other illegal activities in the process of import and export at the ports.

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