Respite for Nigerian Importers, Agents, As ITAS Berths, Offers Safe Clearance of Cargoes At Ports
…Laments Poor Level of Compliance At Nigerian Ports
By DAPO OLAWUNI
Indigenous brand company; International Trade Advisory Services Limited (ITAS) has officially berthed and flagged off it’s operations in Nigeria, offering range of services bordering on safe clearance of goods for importers, exporters, manufacturers, freight forwarders and multinational companies.
Speaking at the maiden press conference and unveiling of the company in Lagos on Wednesday, Principal Consultant and Chief Executive Officer of ITAS, Mr Okey Ibeke lamented that, currently, the compliance level at Nigerian ports is very low.
He noted that this was why many importers suffer in the hands of Nigeria Customs officials and many clearing agents suffer in the hands of regulatory agencies due to wrong classification of cargoes.
According to him, in the Nigerian import and export business, there are lots of conflicts that results from noncompliance to regulations and laws for importers and exporters.
According to the corporate profile of ITAS, some of it’s services include; classification of cargoes; harmonised tariff; valuation determination; post clearance audit assistance; export assistance; and jurisdiction determination.
Others are; voluntary disclosures and appeals; compliance assessment; training and support; duty recovery and duty drawback; rules of origin; and free trade agreement program compliance reviews.
Speaking on these offers, Mr Ibeke said “Some importers willfully refuse to comply with the laid down rules and regulations, but majority of them do it out of ignorance
“So what we do here basically is to advise multinationals, corporate entities on customs processes and procedures, we advised them on how to classify the goods they are importing so that when the goods arrives, they would not have problem with customs service, clearance would be seamless.
“The company was established two years ago, and it has been in operation silently, but now, we have reached a level whereby we want to come out publicly to tell Nigerians that if you do things properly, you would not have problems with regulatory agencies inside the port.
“On international trade agreements like AfCFTA and ETLS, these are complicated matters on which we guide manufacturers on how to exploit opportunities that abound in those continental and regional trade agreements.
“We also advise our clients on valuation matters. If you declare your goods properly, you would not have problems, though it increases the duty, but when you decide to start giving bribes to officials, it all amounts to the same thing, your cargo is delayed at the port, the demurrage is increasing.
“There is a corruption chain at the port, once the customs find out that you have undervalued and you bribe an officer, police would also come, NDLEA, SON others would also come to collect their own. Before you know it, you would have spent more than what you are supposed to pay to the government.
“So, we advise out clients on how to go in order to clear their cargo without these hiccups.
“We also offer defense for our clients whenever they are being cheated by the customs.
“We do trainings for clients and their shipping department on customs processes”
Ibeke observed that the challenges manufacturers and importers go through sometimes at customs headquarters is frustrating and this was why ITAS was berthed to create solutions.
Speaking on the low level of compliance at the ports, he said “The compliance level at Nigerian ports is very poor and this is not peculiar to import businesses alone, it cuts across every other sector
“But the issue is that clearing agents that you see every day crying that customs have seized their containers, they are not in compliance.
“Only few of the freight forwarders in Nigeria can classify goods properly, using the right HS Code, but 99% of freight forwarders do not know anything, I am sorry to say.
“Many of the clearing agents are our clients, when they have a job and they are finding it difficult, we advise them on what to do and how toa classify.
“Secondly, some importers come to us and we recommend clearing agents for them, but on our own, we do not involve in clearing of cargoes” he stated