ECOWAS to set up national committees on trade

Lagos- Nigeria (PANA) -- Members of the Economic Community of West African States have decided to set up national approval committees to handle the approval of products earmarked for exemption under the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme, the ECOWAS Secretariat said in a statement Wednesday in Abuja.
To set up the national approval committees was among decisions taken at the fifth extra-ordinary session of the Council of Ministers, which ended Tuesday at the ECOWAS Secretariat in Abuja.
The scheme entitles the manufacturers of approved products to custom duty exemptions within member states.
The decision by the council, comprising ministers responsible for ECOWAS matters in member states, abrogates its decision of 1998 granting the council the monopoly for approving applications for such exemptions.
It followed the harmonisation of the ECOWAS procedure with that of the UEMOA which already operates this procedure, the statement said.
Some 1,525 products have been granted exemptions since the regional leaders introduced the scheme to boost intra-community trade.
Representatives of the ministers of trade, industry, finance, chambers of commerce and industry as well as ECOWAS national units, among others, will constitute the committees.
They will approve applications for exemption of products only produced by member states during a three-year transition period.
The council will however continue to approve other products outside this category during this transitional period, after which national committees will take over complete responsibilities.
The Ministers also approved a new uniform application form for admission under the scheme.
During the two-day meeting, the council which has responsibility for the administration of the secretariat, also considered the report on the restructuring of the Secretariat, the report of legal experts and that of the ad hoc ministerial committee on the selection and evaluation of statutory appointees.
Six statutory appointees were also sworn in during the meeting.
They include four deputy Executive Secretaries -- Gen.
Sheikh Oumar Diarra for political affairs, defence and security; Seybou Gati for administration and finance, Oluremi Aribisala for Integration programmes and Mame Corsene for policy harmonisation.
Also sworn in were Kofi Kouakou as Managing Director of the ECOWAS Regional Investment Bank (ERIB) as well as his counterpart of the ECOWAS Regional Development Bank (ERDB), Barthelemy Drabo.
These are the two subsidiaries of the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development created following the transformation of the former Lome-based ECOWAS Fund into a holding company.

24 april 2002 16:32:00

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