Customs launches Advanced Ruling System for trade facilitation, revenue boost

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The Nigeria Customs Service has launched an initiative, Advanced Ruling System, in conjunction with the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ), under the Nigeria Energy Support Programme, to ensure trade facilitation and enhanced revenue generation.

The Comptroller-General of Customs, Wale Adeniyi at the launch of the initiative in Abuja on Thursday, said the launch was timely.

He said it was a critical mechanism that allowed traders to obtain binding decisions from customs administrations on the classification, origin and
valuation of goods before importation.

He further said that Advanced Ruling was essential for promoting trade facilitation, reducing compliance costs and fostering conducive business
environment.

Adeniyi said, “Customs was projected to collect a total revenue of N5.07 trillion for the fiscal year 2023.

“While this goal is ambitious, it is attainable with the right measures and mechanisms in place.

“That is why we are implementing several strategies to enhance our capacity to achieve this feat.

“The early results have been positive, and we expect to build on these initiatives, including ensuring stakeholder engagement and involvement every step of the
way.”

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The customs boss further said “the World Customs Organisation (WCO) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have emphasised its significance in facilitating international trade and promoting customs compliance.

According to him, the WCO and the WTO, Advanced Ruling
enhances predictability and transparency in customs procedures, streamlining
trade processes.

He further said that the WCO and WTO had stated that advanced ruling could help minimise delays, uncertainties and costs associated with customs clearance.

Adeniyi said the path toward implementing Advanced Ruling in Nigeria was fraught with challenges and setbacks in the past.

“Previous attempts to introduce this mechanism were unsuccessful, despite its recognised importance.

“However, in 2020, we initiated a scoping mission to review our processes and align them with
global best practices.

“This comprehensive review yielded valuable recommendations that have informed our efforts to relaunch the Advanced Ruling
today.”

Adeniyi said the launch of the Advanced Ruling aligned with the policy directive of President Bola Tinubu’s administration to facilitate trade for legitimate traders.

He said the move was reflected in the Policy Advisory Document of the present administration, adding that it highlighted recent achievements like approval to decongest ports and
make them free and accessible for importers and operators.

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The customs boss further said the recent inauguration of the Single Window Steering Committee by the President underscored high-level commitment to enhancing trade facilitation in Nigeria.

He said the implementation of Advance Ruling was timely, given the significant number of disputes it handled between 2020 and 2023.

He further said, “out of the 34 disputes encountered, 31 have been resolved, while 3 cases remain
pending.

“Additionally, despite the absence of a structured mechanism, a total of 296 requests for Tariff opinions were received, with 266 processed and 30 pending.

“It is crucial to note that the absence of this mechanism has implications beyond Trade Facilitation, as it also impacts our revenue.”

Adeniyi said the event served as a launch and stakeholder consultation, laying
the groundwork for the rollout of Advanced Ruling.

He stressed that the service would
conduct workshops and sensitisation sessions at Customs Area Commands in the coming weeks.

The customs boss said the move was to ensure that all stakeholders were well-informed and prepared to utilise the new mechanism effectively.

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“We are grateful for the support of the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ), our steadfast partner in today’s event,
and for their continued support of our trade facilitation activities under the Nigeria Energy Support Programme.

“It is essential to acknowledge that initiatives like Advanced Ruling
necessitate investments in capacity building for both officers and stakeholders.

“We are committed to leveraging our internal capacity while exploring collaboration with external partners like GIZ.

“Together, we can ensure the successful implementation of Advanced Ruling and contribute to the growth and prosperity of our nation.”

Adeniyi said as part of the kick-off of Advanced Ruling, he had given approval for the development of a handbook to provide guidance to traders and customs officers.

He said the handbook would serve as a valuable resource, ensuring consistency and transparency.

He called on stakeholders to continue provide the
support and cooperation required for more efficient trade process in Nigeria.

 

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