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ECOWAS-CET will be implemented as of January 2015

ECOWAS member countries effective January 1, 2015, will begin the implementation of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff, CET.

This means that member countries will be paying a uniform tariff at all borders in the sub-region.


It is one of the landmarks of the Commission of ECOWAS. Known as the Common External Tariff (CET), citizens of West Africa will through it, have a real chance of enjoying the benefits of a trade boost.

With this development, an improvement of the implementation of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) can now also be safely expected. The CET is an important milestone on the road to the creation of a customs union for West Africa.

Once the CET comes on board in January 2015, goods imported into, a Francophone country for example, will not necessarily be cheaper or more expensive than those gaining entrance into another (say an Anglophone) country. The CET is a response to the 2006 decision of regional leaders for growth facilitating brand of common external tax regime.

Would integration watchers  be correct to say that West Africa, home to about 260 million people would soon start enjoying the fruits of integration made better by a uniform regime of customs charges? The answer to this is a big yes. And the president of the ECOWAS Commission confirmed this much during the opening of the 37th ECOWAS Council of ministers on Tuesday the 9th of December 2014.

Before their current session, the Council of ministers had adopted the Regulation on Supplementary Protection  Measures comprising both the Import Adjustment Tax and the Supplementary Protection Tax while maintaining that the proposal for the introduction of an  Integration Community Levy of 1.5 per cent should be revisited after  five years.

The levy is intended to replace the existing 0.5 percent community levy which is used in financing 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.

Heads of State and Government of the region had at their 25th October 2013 Summit in Dakar decided that the CET would come into effect in the Member States on the 1st of January 2015. The five-band CET for West Africa, is an improvement on the four-band structure operated by the eight member Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa (UEMOA),

It represents one of the instruments for harmonising the policies of Member States thereby strengthening the framework for the realisation of a common market.

Apart from the expected improvement in customs revenue in the region, the primary sectors of member countries would get a measure of protection.

Generally, the CET will boost national productivity through the considerable reduction of customs duties on raw materials required for industrial production.

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