Business and Economy

ECOWAS Finance Ministers Meet Towards Consolidation Of Customs Union

Ministers in charge of Finance of Member States of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have in their fifth meeting which held on 22nd November 2019 in Abuja, Nigeria, validated the draft regulation extending the period of implementation of Supplementary Protection Measures of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET).

The Ministers had previously adopted the Regulation on Supplementary Protection Measures comprising of both the Import Adjustment Tax and the Supplementary Protection Tax.

Having deliberated on the CET, the Ministers noted the delay of its implementation by several Member States and the fact that necessary measures such as the regulation on the change of product category, implementing text for trade defence measures and the establishment of tools to certify the proper implementation of the CET were not yet in place.

Hence the Commissioner of Finance for the ECOWAS Commission Halima Ahmed underscored the collective need to consolidate the ECOWAS Customs union as a means to the achievement of a common market.

“It is worthy to note that the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government remains convinced that regional integration is potent, viable and an appropriate tool for accelerating and achieving the sustainable development of West African countries”, she said.

The commissioner highlighted the important role of customs administrations in the economic integration agenda of ECOWAS.
She stressed the need for them to exhibit a high level of professionalism in the administration of revenue collection, trade facilitation and the protection of the industrial sector which she described as key elements of their mandate.

She pointed out that the Interconnected System for the Management of Transit Goods, a home-grown electronic transit solution called SIGMAT which is currently being piloted in five Member states, when fully implemented will support the connection of all Customs admirations and effectively secure the supply chain as well as facilitate trade in the region.

Also speaking during the meeting, the representative of the Minister of Finance for Nigeria, Dr.Muhammed Kyari Dikwa seized the opportunity to charge ECOWAS to ‘put its house in order’ to maximize the huge opportunities in the wider African Market of over 1.2 billion people by virtue of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

He added that, the economies of scale that result from successful integration will serve as a catalyst for economic development for the region.

The ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Trade, Customs and free Movement, Tei Konzi expressed his belief that the deliberations of the Ministers will advance the process of regional integration and ensure the development of the Community.

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