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Add security to trade facilitation, Jonathan tells WCO
President Goddluck Jonathan, last week, charged the World Customs Organisation (WCO) to embark on the twin task of “trade facilitator and guardian of the community”, if the threat of global insecurity from drugs trafficking, narcotics, gun running and other socio-economic menace must be curbed.
The President also backed the ongoing review of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap 45 Law of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 along with other customs and excise notices, decrees, and guidelines, stressing that the law would be duly aligned with the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Customs Valuation Agreement with a view to strengthening the implementation of customs formalities and clearance procedures.
Speaking in Brussels, the Belgium capital, as a Distinguished Guest of the 119th/ 120th WCO conference, Prsident Jonathan also told the over 500 delegates and observers consisting of 177 membership Customs administration, the European Union, the World Bank, other development partners, donor agencies, regional economic groups and others, that he was publicly identifying with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), lauding the Service for adopting measures which aims at greater transparency, global best transparency and significant reduction of human contact, in cargo clearing business.
He observed that beginning from the 1990’s, the role of customs administrations had undergone significant transformation, gradually, but steadily evolving from trade transactions management for revenue purposes on the one hand; to trade facilitation, society protection and security of international trade supply chains, not only as a reflection of the changing environment in which customs authorities operate, but also the corresponding changes in the priorities of governments.
“The expansion in the traditional role of Customs, as an enforcement agency, to that of trade facilitation in the 21st Century, has led to the emergence of Customs as a prominent business partner to industry players. Customs administrations must therefore see themselves in the context of the twin roles of trade facilitator and guardian of the community,” posited the President, stressing that the greatest challenge presently before Customs administrations, must be how best to successfully design and implement those reforms and modernisation initiatives that would positively contribute to the achievement of the desired economic growth and development objectives.
He maintained that the global customs must confront the challenges of being able to constantly review its own policies, strategise and adapt to the new thrust in government policies, particularly through the redeployment of resources to fulfill the new emerging functions; which must include issues of strengthening the valuation system; reduction in physical inspections; risk profiling and greater reliance on post-clearance audits; rules of origin; and the strengthening of monitoring and supervision to ameliorate the fraudulent use of suspensive regimes, including bonded transit and warehousing.
“I do believe that the benefits of greater efficiency, enhanced competitiveness and higher productivity in the new global economic environment would be better achieved if the Customs service is responsive to the needs of industry in the areas of simplification of procedures; efficient processing of shipments; and the transparent use of rules and regulations.
“Furthermore, Customs can assist the business sector to minimise the costs arising from the unexpected loss of time through the attainment of just-in-time deliveries and avoidance of stock accumulation and prolonged warehousing.
“This notwithstand-ing, the prevailing state of global insecurity requires us all not to lose focus on the traditional enforcement role of Customs. In this respect, customs administrations would need to strengthen themselves and ensure that their specific control mandate is used not only to guard against illegal activities, but also protect the integrity of our socio-economic systems.
“Collaboration between customs administrations is critical, especially within the context of regional and multilateral cooperation. This is important for addressing national and regional security issues relating to the rising menace of terrorism; the proliferation of light weapons, narcotics, smuggling, money-laundering and other cross-border crimes. It is gratifying to note that the WCO has already developed various tools and instruments to enhance collaborative efforts in this direction.Share