The ECOWAS Council of Ministers has recommended that the new five-band regional Common External Tariff (CET) become operational on 1 Jan. 2015.
Rounding off their extraordinary session Monday in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, the ministers also adopted the Regulation on Supplementary Protection measures comprising the Import Adjustment Tax and the Supplementary Protection Tax, while noting that the proposal for the introduction of an Integration Community Levy of 1.5 per cent should be revisited after five years.
According to an ECOWAS statement obtained by PANA here Wednesday, the levy is intended to replace the existing 0.5 percent community levy used to finance the activities of the Community.
During this period, a study will be undertaken with a view to achieving convergence on a single rate for ECOWAS and the eight-member Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) and determine the taxable base for the levy.
The meeting also directed that all necessary measures be taken to improve the implementation of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS), which should be evaluated annually.
With respect to EPA negotiations, Council recommended the resumption of negotiators with the European Union which has been stalled mainly on the issues of market access offer and the EPA Development Programme (EPADP).
While West Africa originally offered to open 60 per cent of its market over 25 years, it has revised its position to 70 per cent over the same period, while the EU is insisting on an 80 per cent market opening.
Both sides are also at odds over the EPADP under which the region is asking for 16 billion Euros in new funds to cope with the cost of adjustment to the impending trade regime, with the EU insisting that the programme be funded from existing bilateral and multilateral contributions.
Council Members called on West Africa and the European Union to find the required compromise on all outstanding issues, given West Africa’s development imperatives.
Furthermore, member states were urged to deploy every effort for the creation of the second West African monetary zone as early as possible. To this end, it was recommended that a Head of State be designated to lead the process for the creation of the common currency.
On Guinea Bissau, Council expressed satisfaction at the status of preparations for the elections and the ongoing efforts in member states to contribute financially to the polls, scheduled to take place on 24 Nov. 2013. Member states were encouraged to expedite payment of the pledged contributions in order to consolidate the achievements already made in the transition process in Guinea Bissau.
The recommendations of the Council will be submitted to the next extraordinary Summit of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, due to hold in Dakar, Senegal on 25 Oct, 2013.