When you think international trade, you think business. You think negotiation, price, logistics, transport. And so you should. The last thing you want on your mind is heavy customs formalities, time-consuming paperwork, multiple visits to administrations, or long waits for clearance. Alas, this nerve-racking part of trade is a fatality.
More accurately, it was the situation with import/export trade in Nigeria. But indications are that customs processes are getting a lot smoother. Sunday Telegraph learnt that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has put in place a new system called Nigerian Integrated Customs Information System (NICIS) II. If you haven’t heard of it yet, here is NICIS II in a nutshell.
Connecting the trade community
It has been disclosed that hinging on cutting-edge technology; NICIS II system has created a comprehensive trade environment connecting all governmental and business stakeholders. This is even as it is being used at the airports as well as sea ports and land borders; it can equally be accessed by importers, commercial banks, shipping lines, airlines, Customs and other government agencies.
According to the Public Relations Officer of Nigeria Customs Service, Joseph Attah, a deputy controller of Customs, NICIS II gives traders the opportunity to reduce operational costs and turnaround time by speeding up and simplifying customs processes.
He said, firstly, it centralises processes through a single online platform. The application for electronic certificates or permits, Form M, pre-arrival assessment report, and shipping manifest, for example, are all handled through the NICIS II system. Attah added that documents can be scanned and attached for online submission, meaning no physical visit to administrations is required.
“Moreover, the system removes the need for recapturing of data. Data submitted once for one document is then used to auto-populate others; in other words, no more duplication of effort.”
He said that the system displays up-to-date, regularly updated information including latest tariff codes and rates so that traders can keep on track.
Sunday Telegraph learnt that what is there for the trading community is that there is substantial reduction in the clearance time and port congestion. In May 2018 vs May 2017, clearance time at upgraded offices dropped by 50 to over 60 per cent. When you know that more than USD 35 billion worth of imports were processed by Nigerian Customs in 2017, the achievement is significant.
Also, simplifying procedures is in itself a huge improvement as well, as traders can spend less time handling formalities and more time focusing on their business. With 100 per cent of the processing done by traders and their agents on the platform, NICIS II is a real one-stop shop.
At your desk, on the go, across the country
A web-based platform powered by Webb Fontaine, NICIS II can be accessed from personal computers as well as on the move via tablets and smartphones. Besides, the system includes handy features such as status notifications. In addition, it will soon offer real-time tracking of the single goods declaration (SGD) using a mobile application, says Deputy Comptroller Attah.
He added that the system is already in place at eight ports and will progressively be deployed at a total of 38 area commands across Nigeria.
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