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Home Sectors BUSINESS & ECONOMY By 2020, Import Prohibition Will Cease In West Africa

By 2020, Import Prohibition Will Cease In West Africa

The implementation of Common External Tariff (CET), may cost the federal government access to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS)’s revenues from 2020.

CET is one of the instruments of harmonising Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states and strengthening its Common Market (CM). Under the policy, the countries will share same customs duties, import quotas, preferences or other non-tariff barriers to trade. This would also apply to all goods entering the area, regardless of which country within the area they are entering.

The scheme was in May approved by Nigeria’s former President, Goodluck Jonathan, for its implementation between 2015-2019 and 2015 Fiscal Policy Measures.

Omce the scheme is implemented, African countries, apart from Mauritania that opted out of ECOWAS, would monitor all the revenues generated from the ports and borders and operate a common treasury. However, it was learnt that the countries were yet to agree over the sharing formula because Nigeria generates 70 per cent of the revenue in the region.

The policy contained tariffs of four bands of customs duty, namely: Essential social goods – zero per cent, goods of primary necessity, raw materials and specific inputs – five per cent; intermediate goods – 10 per cent and final consumption goods – 20 per cent. The policy also stipulated that no country could charge above 35 per cent tariff in the region. The source lamented: “Very soon, Nigeria will not have money to pay its workers. Naira will disappear because there will be one currency. “By 2020, there will be nothing like import prohibition in West Africa.

If we remove import prohibition, some inefficient industries will close down completely. No government can tamper with the new tariff.” Already, France has resolved to stop its subsidies on CFA currency from December 31 this year. Meanwhile, NCS has engaged the service of a German development firm, Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) (German Corporation for International Cooperation) to assist it in implementing CET. GIZ is owned by the German Federal Government and operates in over 130 countries. Its headquarters are located in Bonn and Eschborn Germany.

The implementation of the ECOWAS CET (2015-2019) together with its Supplementary Protection Measures (SPM) and 2015 Fiscal Policy Measures concurrently took effect from April 11, 2015, after the expiration of the 30 days notice required under the provisions of the ECOWAS CET. The GIZ’s Advisor on Trade Facilitation and Private Sector Development, Frieder Mecklenburg, said that his firm was in Nigeria to train officers and men of the NCS the CET implementation.

“Germany, as a country, is benefiting largely from overseas trade, import and export. Nigeria, on the other hand, is the most powerful market in the West African subregion. Just as Germany has done in the European Union, we are here to help Nigeria implement the CET in the West African sub-region.

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