Customs Agents: How FG Can Boost Export

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Eromosele Abiodun
The National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) has identified lengthy and cumbersome documentation process on export, multiplicity of regulatory/security agencies, high and duplicated terminal/ shipping company charges and process and lack of export infrastructures as the major obstacles that affect export process from Nigerian ports.

In a letter to the Executive Director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and copied President Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), NCMDLCA called on the federal government to take urgent steps to remove the obstacles before it is too late.

The letter signed by its National President, Lucky Amiwero alleged that: “Federal government agencies duplicate the process of quality inspection with that of the appointed federal government pre-shipment inspection on export. This constitutes serious bottleneck due to lengthy and cumbersome process, procedure and cost, which resulted in attendant delays and high cost that necessitated to the movement of our product to our neighbouring West African Ports.”

On the duplication of charges by shipping companies, the customs agents said: “The Nigerian Shipping companies in line with the contract of carriage, handle import container that are loaded back to the country of origin as empty container without any charge due to the level of export activities that is still very low in the country. The shipping lines Terminal Delivery Charges (TDC) is a charge that is not tied to service, as such charge is duplicated in the charges of Terminal Operators. Their charges do not represent any service to exporters in Nigeria in any form.”

“The excessive Terminal Charge coupled with various other charges, they added, are not tied to services in line with WTO Articles VIII –(1)-(a), which stipulates, that all fees and charges of whatever character imposed by contracting parties in connection with importation and exportation shall be limited in amount to the approximate cost of service renders.

“The terminal charges are charges component that are not tied to service and it’s duplicated by the shipping company who do not perform any service in the terminal. The operational procedure of Terminal/shipping activities contributes to the associated delay due to short shipment of consignment that result to late Loading and reloading of exported containers. The mandatory applicable global adoption of International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Convention for safety of life at sea (SOLAS) Chapter VI, Part A Regulation 2 cargo information, is the shipper responsibility to provide the container’s gross.

“The Verification of gross Mass (VGM) shall be verified by shipper either by weighing the packed container using calibrated and certified equipment as contained in the provision of SOLAS CHAPTER VI Part A Section 4 paragraph 1&2, which clearly states, the shipper of a container shall ensure the verified gross mass (VGM) is stated in the shipping document and shall be signed by the shipper.”

Consequently, they requested that trade procedure committee (TPC) be set up with expert, to address the obstacle and the shortfalls inherent in our system as it relate to export and import trade
We as an organisation that has served in close to 167 federal government Committee some attached, which include, presidential committees on Destination Inspection, Port problem, 48 hour clearance of cargo, Customs reform etc, request that trade procedure committee (TPC) be set up with expert, to address the obstacle and the shortfalls inherent in our system as it relate to Export and Import Trade.