The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), yesterday, joined the European countries, United States of America and countries in Asia by launching Time Release Study (TRS) for effective cargo clearance and trade facilitation.
The launch of the TRS by customs in collaboration with the World Trade Organization (WTO), was aimed at increasing efficiency in Nigerian ports.
The TRS methodology, developed by the World Customs Organisation (WCO), also offered a systematic approach to measuring the total duration of time from goods’ arrival at the customs border to their release.
Speaking in Lagos at the official launch of the pilot scheme of TRS at the Tin Can Island command of Customs, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, said for Nigeria not to be left behind in the global world of development, she must key into the initiative.
The minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Lydia Jafiya, stated that TRS redefines best approaches to creating an enabling environment for businesses and providing excellent services for economic cooperation.
“Several countries in Europe, United States and Asia, Middle East and Latin America have adopted TRS, recognising its significance in enhancing trade facilitation. So, for Nigeria not to be left behind in the global world of development, we need to key into this initiative,” the minister stated.
Edun further stated that the TRS falls within the domain of the Federal Government renewed hope agenda which demonstrates President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s commitment to unleash full economic recovery for the country.
“The Comptroller General of Customs has informed me that TRS is a WCO tool used internationally for harmonising the various processes and procedures involved in Customs clearance.
“TRS falls within the domain of the federal government’s renewed hope agenda which demonstrates President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s commitment to unleash full economic recovery for the country.
“TRS also redefines the best approaches to creating an enabling environment for businesses in addition to providing excellence services for economic cooperation.
“A conducive port environment is crucial for the facilitation of international trade. Efficient Customs processes are paramount for achieving cost-effective goods clearance and indeed assuring us of efficiency in the system.
“It is against this background that I welcome the idea behind the introduction of TRS. I have acknowledged that it works. In truth, TRS will ultimately lead to a business environment that is friendly.
“I want to encourage all the stakeholders in the port to rally around the Customs to ensure the success of the TRS. For us to achieve this objective, there must be synergy among all stakeholders,” he stated.
Also speaking, the minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anite, urged Customs to double its efforts on trade facilitation.
Uzoma-Anite said focusing on trade facilitation would also lead to revenue generation for Nigeria.
She said the Customs is the only agency in Nigeria saddled with three critical functions: security, revenue generation, and trade facilitation.
“However as your Trade minister, I implore you to double or redouble your efforts in focusing on just trade facilitation,” she said.
“This is because when you facilitate trade, you’re enhancing our trade volume, or you’re making our nation more competitive and then we can generate more revenue without increasing our levies,” the Trade minister stated.
Speaking earlier, the Comptroller General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, emphasised that adopting international best practices will promote trade growth in the country.
Adeniyi stated that TRS would provide comprehensive insights into Customs operational efficiency, thus contributing to national development goals.
The CGC highlighted that the data-driven enables stakeholders to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies accurately, thereby enhancing trade efficiency and promoting economic development.
Reflecting on Nigeria’s previous attempts to conduct TRS exercises, Adeniyi acknowledged the challenges faced due to lack of collaboration among relevant agencies. However, he expressed optimism about the current initiative, leveraging lessons learned from past experiences to ensure success.
He noted that the revitalisation of the National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) and extensive stakeholder engagements underscored the commitment to collaboration and transparency in the implementation of TRS.
In addition to TRS, the CGC informed that the NCS is deploying various initiatives such as the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) program, Advanced Ruling, and establishing a Customs Laboratory to further enhance trade facilitation and revenue generation.
Adeniyi concluded that as Nigeria embarks on this journey to modernise customs operations and improve trade facilitation, the launch of TRS represents a significant milestone in the country’s quest for economic growth and development.
He said with a renewed commitment to collaboration, innovation, and strategic measures, Nigeria is poised to optimise trade efficiency and promote transparent trade practices for the benefit of all stakeholders.
“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,” he said.
According to Adeniyi, the service, with the launch of the Tara’s, reached significant milestones in trade facilitation and cargo clearance.
“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 optimise trade facilitation are targeted and effective. Embracing these methodologies allows stakeholders to collaboratively work towards enhancing trade efficiency and promoting broader economic development,” he said.
He said 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.