We’ve Achieved 70% Deal on ECOWAS Common External Tariff, Says Customs Boss

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Nigeria Customs Service says the country has implemented at least 70 per cent of the requirements of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET).

Hameed Ali, Comptroller-General of Nigeria Custom Service stated this at the  opening a meeting of ECOWAS Directors-General of Customs in Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital city.

It is said that the regional economic group’s adoption of the common tariff implies that the same customs duties, import quotas, preferences or other non-tariff barriers to trade apply to all goods entering the area, regardless of which country within the area they are entering.

CET came into effect in January 2015. It is expected to foster a common market and remove trade obstacles to free movement of persons and goods within West African countries.

 Ali, however, pointed out that at present Nigeria was on a test-run of the CET and had based all its tariff lines on the CET model, noting “Nigeria has fared very well in the implementation of the Common External Tariff as we have implemented about 60 to 70 per cent. All our tariff lines are now based on the CET model and it is on a test run and I hope that when it comes to full implementation, we would have reached the maximum percentage.”

He confirmed “We are doing very well in terms of the codes and regulatory aspect of the CET; we receive goods from member countries with zero duty and have transit measures we are adhering to. An efficient and transparent manner”, the Customs big boss said while urging member countries to strengthen security at the borders to promote a more business friendly sub-region.

The custom boss added, ”our borders are getting increasingly assaulted and weakened by the criminal activities of smugglers, drug trafficking, armed bandits and insurgents. These elements can only thrive when there are gaps in our operations. It is time that we explore platforms to work together, simplify our procedure and instil transparency in order to encourage our small and medium enterprises to take full advantage of ECOWAS free trade protocols.”

Laouali Chaibou, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement in his address said 13 member states had begun the implementation of the CET, pointing out that implementation is necessary to put in place an institutional framework for the implementation of the CET.”

Nadal Cannata, Head of Section, Economic Integration and Energy, European Union in Nigeria, said intra-regional trade within the sub-region was below expectations, in spite of efforts being made. She emphasised that inadequate mechanisms to monitor, evaluate and follow up on the implementation of required policies hampered trade integration and facilitation within ECOWAS.

According to her, the EU in collaboration with ECOWAS and other development partners had designed a new programme to facilitate trade and reinforce relevant policies within the sub-region.”Some of the key elements that have really been put on the forefront of this new programme are technical and strategic dialogue involving all stakeholders; capacity building for regional organisations, the private sector and the business community”, she said.