Clearing agents laud FG’s approval of ECOWAS Common External Tariff on imports

Clearing agents have lauded the Federal government’s decision to implement the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Common External Tariff (CET) describing it as a good step in the right direction.
The agents who spoke in separate interviews with SHIPS & PORTS DAILY said the implementation of the policy will improve the ease of doing business especially for shippers in the country.
Chairman, Association of Electoral Commission (ASECO) of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Babatunde Abdulazeez said the approval will reduce to its barest minimum corrupt tendencies among customs officers.
According to him, prior to the approval, the government has been shying away from implementing the policy because of Customs drive for maximum revenue collection which he said is at the expense of trade facilitation.
He said although the policy will affect customs revenue generation, it will help enhance trade facilitation across borders.
“With the approval, I think it will knock off a whole lot of corrupt tendencies because the duty bound rates has been dropped to about 20 percent. Nigeria has been having disparity in rates regime because of customs position to drive more maximum revenue from an average importer and that has caused so many people to go across border to bring in their goods through unapproved routes,”
“It is the government of a nation that decides what focus its customs administration should go. Ours is of maximum collection of revenue not trade facilitation. So this ECOWAS CET implementation will help to enhance trade facilitation across border. It is going to reduce customs revenue but give them more human face to do trade facilitation which customs ought to be doing,” he said
President, Association of Registered Freight Forwarders (AREFF), Frank Ukor also welcomed the development saying it will not increase cost of doing business but rather it will make clearance very easy because it will unify all the tariffs within the ECOWAS sub region.
“As an importer, it means you can pay duty on your consignment from any entry point within the sub region. If your goods are coming in from Ghana, it means you can pay duty at Ghana. All you need is evidence of payment when you get to the Nigeria border. It will make clearance very easy,” he said.
On his part, factional president, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero said the country will only benefit from the implementation of the policy if it creates an enabling environment especially in the area of power supply.
“I don’t think Nigeria is going to benefit from it because we don’t have the enabling environment and our energy is not productive. So we need to re-jig our system to be able to face these challenges because infrastructure provision is one key area,” he said.
He said the customs management also needs to train its personnel for a smooth implementation of the policy.

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