Nigeria: ECOWAS regional common external tariff to come into effect Jan. 1, 2015

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - Preparations for the January 2015 take off of the regional Common External Tariff (CET) has started in Accra, Ghana, with two landmark meetings of experts and ministers to evaluate the preparedness at the national and regional levels for the implementation of the harmonised tariff regime, an important milestone on the road to the creation of a customs union for West Africa.

In a press statement, received here by PANA, ECOWAS said Heads of State and Government of the region, at their 25 October, 2013, Summit in Dakar, Senegal, decided that the ECOWAS Common External Tariff would come into effect in Member States on 1 January, 2015.

The five-band CET for West Africa, an improvement on the four-band structure operated by the eight member Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa (UEMOA), represents one of the instruments for harmonising the policies of Member States, thereby strengthening the framework for the realisation of a common market.

The first of the meetings, on ECOWAS/UEMOA Joint Management Committee on the CET, opened on Monday, 24 November, 2014, with experts from the ministries of finance and customs of Member States in attendance at the three-day meeting.

This was followed on Thursday, 27 November, 2014, by that of the ministers of finance and Directors General of the customs services of Member States.

Opening the first meeting, the Director for Economic Research and Forecasting of Ghana’s Ministry of Finance, Dr. Alhassan Iddrisu, dwelt on the aim of the meeting while underpinning the ultimate benefit of implementing the CET, especially the marked improvement in customs revenue in the region.

Dr. Iddrisu pointed out that besides protecting each country’s primary sector, the CET will boost national production through the considerable reduction of customs duties on raw materials required for industrial production.

While acknowledging “possible hitches”, he said the successful implementation of this instrument will be advantageous to the economies of the countries and the regional economy.

His contemporary in charge of Regional Market and Customs Union of the UEMOA Commission, Mr François Xavier Bambara, expressed satisfaction at the efforts made individually and collectively by ECOWAS and Member States to abide by the 1st January 2015 deadline.

“Several things have been been done since the setup of the committee” said Bambara, adding that the journey ahead towards making the CET a veritable West African integration tool promises to be a long one.  

In conclusion, he urged the experts to stay the course “to enable the fruits of their efforts to become visible and profitable for the Community’s businesses and people”.

The ECOWAS Director for Customs, Mr Salifou Tiemtoré, gave an optimistic assessment of the implementation of the road map for the CET with 90 per cent of the activities in the road map completed as the end of October 2014.

“This means that all the crucial activities required for the take-off of the CET in Member states had been completed," he said, noting, however, that the outbreak of the Ebola virus had affected the organisation of meetings of the committee as initially planned.

He, however, gave the assurance that the meeting of the Finance Ministers and Directors General of Customs, scheduled for Thursday, was meant to make it possible to finalize and conclude the activities on preparations towards the implementation of the instrument and the official entry into force of the harmonised tariff regime.

-0- PANA PR/VAO 28Nov2014

28 novembre 2014 15:45:08

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