Challenges to gains in ECOWAS Common External Tariff Regime identified

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has said that the implementation of Common External Tariff (CET) in the country would require a paradigm shift, notwithstanding the benefits and challenges.


National Public Relations Officer of the Service, Deputy Comptroller, Wale Adeniyi, said emphasis may shift from using revenue collected in measuring the performance of the Service.


Speaking at a two- day training workshop with the theme,Common External Tariff: Implementation, Challenges and Prospects organized for maritime journalists by the NCS in Abuja on Tuesday, Adeniyi said that the regional integration under which CET falls has a lot of benefits and challenges.



He said, “ECOWAS is a very big market which Nigeria cannot afford to ignore; and there is a wind of change which says that trade is a very important vehicle of development.

“For us to embrace trade we cannot afford to trade without the mechanism for trade in West Africa; and that is through the instrumentality of the ECOWAS ETLS and the Common External Tariff. There are so many angles, of which we are going to be getting exposed to, as we enter into some of these agreements. These include the Economic Partnership for Africa (EPA), which is already going on between the sub-region and also the European Union (EU).


“By the time we enter into this, it is going to guarantee us access into the EU market. But then, nothing goes for nothing. So, for them to give us access to their market, they may also ask us to suspend some of the (Customs) duties that we charge on import that is coming from their countries. That is the way multilateral trade grows”, he stated, seeking the understanding of the media, towards accurate presentation of information to the public.


“So, with time, you (media) will have to help us, so that if you see the revenue in Tin Can Island Port drops by a certain percent, you are not going to be looking at those figures in absolute terms.


“We are also going to be looking at other matrix: ‘Yes, the revenue dropped, but our industry is faring better; yes, the revenue dropped, but there is now a significant increase in graduate employment; yes, the revenue dropped, but the factories are now operating at higher installed capacities.


“So, these are some of the issues that we’ll need to recognise and appreciate as we brainstorm in preparation for the years to come, especially as we enter into the nitty-gritty of the implementation of the CET, the Rule of Origin, and the EPA.”


Adeniyi said that all goods imported into the country will enjoy normal classification, but added that the rule of origin may have to receive more emphasis.

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