The Crucial Role of Customs Brokers in Fostering Transborder Trade for National Economic Growth”

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Iju Anthony Nwabunike, the Pioneer Chairman of CRFFN and a distinguished Maritime Consultant, expressed his delight in sharing insights on the pivotal subject of customs brokers and their impact on sustaining transborder trade for national economic growth.
Commending the organizers for orchestrating a platform to discuss critical aspects of the country’s economic and social landscape, Nwabunike regretfully acknowledged his virtual participation due to his current absence from Nigeria. He expressed hope for future opportunities to physically engage in events like the AMJON Annual Conference.
Nwabunike delved into the fundamental role of customs brokers, defining them as individuals or licensed companies operating as intermediaries for importers and exporters in customs clearance matters. He intentionally avoided delving into the distinctions between customs brokers and freight forwarders, steering clear of potential debates outside the presentation’s scope.
Highlighting the licensing process, he explained the historical empowerment of the Nigeria Customs Service to issue licenses to agents under corporate identities, a practice that continued until the enactment of the Nigeria Customs Service Act in 2023.
Addressing the specific question of the customs broker’s role in sustaining transborder trade for national economic growth, Nwabunike emphasized the geopolitical context, with Nigeria sharing borders with Benin Republic, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These countries fall under two economic blocs – ECOWAS and ECCAS, creating a dynamic trade environment influenced by varying state policies.

To facilitate understanding, Nwabunike itemized the roles of customs brokers into six categories: Intermediary, Facilitator, Educator, Revenue Generator, Strengthening Economic Relationship, and Promoting Regional Diplomacy.

He shed light on the peculiar challenges faced by Nigerian borders, being an Anglophone country surrounded by predominantly Francophone neighbors. Despite this linguistic challenge and the absence of modern border equipment, Nwabunike advocated for the realization of SMART borders, aligning with the principles of the World Customs Organisation.
The customs broker’s role as an intermediary, facilitator, and educator was underscored, emphasizing their strategic presence at entry points, enabling them to disseminate relevant trade information and educate stakeholders on import/export regulations.
Nwabunike highlighted the customs broker’s significant contribution to government revenue, with over 70 percent generated from import and export activities involving freight forwarders. Looking ahead to 2024, he echoed the Comptroller General’s goal of collecting N6 trillion, emphasizing the need for customs brokers to receive a percentage, reinforcing their stake and boosting productivity.
The presentation concluded by emphasizing the customs brokers’ impact on economic growth, both locally and globally, recognizing their vital role in shaping the nation’s economy.

 


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