As Nigeria joined 18 other countries in the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) in the implementation of a Common External Tariff (CET) a week ago, stakeholders have expressed optimism that it would usher in transparency in the process of international trade, besides putting an end to smuggling.
Although full implementation of the regional trade regime, aimed at creating a common market and regional integration, is yet to be fully implemented at the nation’s gateways, as the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is said to be configuring its system in line with the provisions of the new regime, many of the port users were very excited at the idea, believing it would be beneficial to the great majority of the Nigerian masses who are already looking forward to the drop in prices of imported items.
President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, Prince Olayiwola Shittu, said such expectation could become real with the insistence on proper procedure and the competitiveness of the ports.
“Definitely, it will stop smuggling, create competition among nations and attract more vessels to Nigeria because there will be no more diversion of cargoes.
“If what you are going to pay in Ghana or Ivory Coast is the same thing you are going to pay in Nigeria, why take your goods there? It will encourage the development of inter-states trade and this will be to ECOWAS what EU is to Europe, that is regional integration,” he said.
He however cautioned that CET should not be misconstrued to mean that all goods will become cheaper as a result of common tariff because, Nigeria had before now built in tax component into the tariff for some imported items, in order to protect the local manufacturers.
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