The Minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun, on Tuesday, tasked the Director-Generals of Customs and African Union Commission to bring on board the issue of 0.2% import levy in the continent ad create guidelines for its implementation.
Speaking at the first extraordinary meeting of the African Union sub-committee of Directors-General of Customs in Abuja, Adeosun said Africa cannot continue to settle for the position of the world’s biggest buyer without selling to the world market in return.
According to her, the continent must come to the trade table as an equal partner that is buying and selling in order to correct the age-long embarrassment that has made its economy vulnerable.
“But on a more serious note, I really do welcome you. I hope that the conversation would be deep, I hope they would be robust, I hope that they would be patriotic to Africa. We need an African focus.
“We cannot continue to be the world’s biggest market for anybody who wants to sell anything. We need to come to the trade table as equal partners, selling as well as buying. And we must correct some historical embarrasses that have made our economies very vulnerable,” she said.
The minister noted that Nigeria is not just African’s largest economy by size but African’s largest economy by impact, stressing that the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali has shown the way that Africans ought to go as the largest economy by spearheading and hosting the meeting.
She revealed to the meeting that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to the ease of doing business and has recently outlined a number of radical changes to boost service delivery.
The Nigeria Customs Service, the Minister said, is the first part of the changes, which has called for the need to re-engineer some of the processes that the meeting was expected to come up with the strategies for their implementation.
Speaking at the event, Customs Comptroller-General, Hameed Ali, recalled that since the decision to hold the meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe in November 2016, the service had been mobilising personnel and materials to provide a conducive environment and a befitting welcome to make it most successful.
He said it was the expectation of the Nigerian Customs that the meeting would bring all the African Union Customs Administrations together to articulate a common agenda and speak in unison during the World Customs Organisation’s Annual General Council Meeting coming up in July 2017.
The meeting, according to him, would afford the African continent the opportunity to occupy the rightful position in the WCO within the administrative and political hierarchy and exert an authority to influence policies that will be beneficial to the continent and enhance intra-African trade.