By Gboyega Oni
The Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) has underscored the importance of the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) for enhancing the integrity of security management in the trade supply chain and for the Customs clearance of legitimate goods.
Col. Hameed Ali stated this at a workshop on developing a National Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) Programme and Validation Techniques conducted by the World Customs Organisation (WCO) with the Korea Customs Cooperation Fund (CCF-Korea) for officers of Nigeria Customs Service at the Customs Command and Staff College in Gwagwalada, Abuja, Nigeria.
Represented by ACG Epowei Edike, Commandant of Nigeria’s Customs Command and Staff College, Ali expressed gratitude to the WCO for organizing this relevant and timely workshop, given that it aimed to set the stage for collaboration between the customs administration and the private sector. He also extended appreciation to the WCO official and the accredited AEO experts from Korea for assisting with the early adoption of the AEO Programme in Nigeria.
The workshop was designed to provide participants with a better understanding of various instruments related to implementation of the SAFE Framework of Standards and AEO Programme, together with associated requirements and validation techniques.
The workshop was a follow-up to the May 2018 Sensitization Workshop to support the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in preparing for the launch of the pilot project. It brought together around 60 participants, including Customs officers and private sector stakeholders wishing to engage in the AEO Programme.
The WCO team described the WCO tools for implementation of the AEO Programme and SAFE Framework of Standards. They also imparted know-how and considerations to be borne in mind when designing an AEO Programme tailored to the needs and expectations of NCS officers and the private sector. Through the course of the workshop, the experts introduced the concepts of AEO requirements, validation techniques and benefits while the participants carried out case studies and practical exercises to gain an understanding of these concepts. In order to conduct an effective security management review of AEO-certified companies, the WCO team and participants shared their views on specific techniques for on-site validation. The participants also entered into group discussions to find ways of implementing AEO pilot projects in the near future.
The WCO team apprised NCS’s AEO Committee of the measures to be taken to prepare for the pilot project. Nigeria committed itself to meeting the planned target of launching the pilot AEO Programme in November 2018, and asked the WCO for the additional support needed to enact requirements, issue circulars and develop validation techniques.