Finance Ministers and Customs heads of 15 States of the West African sub-region will meet on November 27 in Accra, Ghana, to finalize the preparations for the entry into force early next year of the Common External Tariff (CET) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The meeting will be an opportunity to conclude the activities undertaken by experts for the implementation of the CET, to inform the Finance Ministers on preparations for the implementation and to officially launch its entry into force scheduled for 1 January 2015, according to an official document obtained by PANA on Wednesday.
The meeting of Finance Ministers and Customs Directors General is seen as a way to convey a strong message about the commitment of the Community to start applying the CET by January, according to the decision of the Authority of Heads of State and Government at their summit in Dakar, Senegal, in October 2013.
The document said to this end, a number of preparatory activities were undertaken at the regional and national levels to ensure the smooth implementation of the CET on the date chosen.
These meetings include Customs Directors General of ECOWAS aimed at developing a road roadmap for its implementation, as well as that of Customs IT experts who work on how to integrate CET in national computer systems.
Workshops for training of trainers for all customs administrations of ECOWAS, officials of the Ministries of Trade and Industry and the private sector have been organized.
The document said at national level, national training programs had been initiated for customs agents and freight forwarders.
With its adoption process going back to the 29th Conference of Heads of State and Government of the sub-regional grouping, held in January 2006 in Niamey, Niger, the CET will be an instrument under which the same duties and taxes are applied on goods entering the ECOWAS region regardless of their points of entry and destination.
Built on the model of the CET of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU CET), this instrument includes a list of products classified into four bands corresponding to the four tariff bands of the WAEMU CET (0%, 5%, 10% and 20%).
These products range from basic social products to the end-consumer products through the basic necessities, the basic raw materials, capital goods, specific inputs, inputs and intermediary goods.
A fifth band of the ECOWAS CET at 35% was created in 2009 for “Specific goods for economic development”.