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Ministers of Finance and Directors-General of Customs of ECOWAS Member States are to meet in Accra on Thursday, 27th November 2014 to finalize preparations for the entry into force of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) next year.

The meeting, organized by the Directorate of Customs of the ECOWAS Commission, will be preceded by a three-day session 24-26 November 2014 by the joint ECOWAS-UEMOA Committee for the Management of the CET, also in the Ghanaian capital.

The purpose of the pre-ministerial meeting is to conclude arrangements at the experts’ level; brief the Finance Ministers on the preparations towards the implementation of the instrument and officially launch the CET by 1st January 2015.

The Finance Ministers and Directors-General of Customs meeting is particularly crucial, because it sends a strong signal of the Community’s commitment to implement the CET next January, as directed by the Heads of State and Government.

At their Dakar Summit in October 2013 regional leaders resolved that the ECOWAS CET should enter into force in the Member States on 1st January 2015. To this end, several preparatory activities were undertaken at regional and national levels to ensure the smooth implementation of the instrument on the set date.

Consequently, Directors-General of Customs of ECOWAS Member States have met to develop a roadmap for the implementation of CET, as well as a meeting of Customs IT experts to work on the integration of the CET in the national IT systems.

A training-of-trainers workshop for all customs administrations of ECOWAS Member states, another for Trade and Industry Ministries’ officials, and the third for the private sector were eight forwarders.

A mission was dispatched to all Member States to assess the level of preparation and the status of integration of the CET in the national customs IT systems.

The CET seeks to harmonize the duties and taxes on goods entering the ECOWAS region regardless of their points of entry and destination. Its adoption process dates back to the 29th Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government held in January 2006 in Niamey, Niger, which developed the instrument based on the architecture of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA).


It comprises a list of products including four categories corresponding to four tariff bands of UEMOA (0%, 5%, 10% and 20%). These are essential social goods, final consumer goods, goods of primary necessity, raw materials, capital goods, specific inputs and intermediary goods.  A fifth category described as “specific goods for economic development” with a tariff band of 35%, was introduced in 2009.

The ECOWAS CET also includes other elements such as the statistical charge, the community levy, and other trade defence measures.

Directorate of Communication

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