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Second meeting of the ECOWAS-UEMOA joint committee on the ECOWAS Custom Union begins
Mr. Muhammed Yakub (M), Bernard Tayoh (R) and Salifou Tiemtore (R)

Abuja 29th October 2018. The second joint Committee meeting of the Economic Community of West African States and the West African Monetary and Economic Union (WAEMU) on management of the ECOWAS Custom Union began on the 29th of October 2018 in Abuja, Nigeria.

Opening the meeting and welcoming the delegates to a three-Day deliberations dedicated to the rules of community origin, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement Mr. Tèi Konzi stated that having a workable customs union requires hard work and continuous efforts and as such, the Commission could not afford to rest on its laurels.

He urged the delegates from Member States to facilitate building on the important steps already taken which include the realization of the Free Trade Area, the entry into force of a Common External Tariff (CET) as well as the adoption of a Community Customs Code.

Commissioner Konzi who was represented by ECOWAS Commission’s Director of Customs Mr. Salifou Tiemtoré, noted that the Commission has been working tirelessly to strengthen the Customs Union.

According to the Commissioner, the laudable efforts of the Commission are drafted with the assistance of Member States’ experts who also perfect the draft Community texts on the reinforcement of the Free Trade Area (FTA), reinforcement of the application of the CET, harmonization of customs procedures and cooperation, as well as the establishment of the Tax Transition and Tax Harmonization Programmes.

He disclosed further that the nature of the earlier work done informed the convergence of the delegates with two draft community texts. The first in this regard has to do with the regulation on the change of product category of the ECOWAS CET. It aims to establish a procedure to guide Member States in their application for tariff band changes on a given product in the CET and also on sub-divisions of tariff lines.

This also aims to make the CET more flexible for the socio-economic needs of the Community.

The second draft text submitted for evaluation, borders on the regulation on Customs Excise concerning harmonization of tax exemptions for fiscal purposes, taking into account Community rules and international conventions to which the Member States are contracting parties.

Commissioner Konzi urged the delegates to examine the two draft texts and “ensure that they take into account the interests of our economic operators and that it will facilitate the realization in the short term of the Customs Union”

Speaking earlier, the chair of session and Director, Nigerian Ministry of Finance Mr. Muhammed Musa Yakub stated the need for diligence and working with dispassionate mindsets noting that deliberations by the technical experts should be such that can sustain the momentum gained so far while keeping in view the critical issues on the agenda.

The Monitoring Advisor and head of Trade and Customs component of the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Mr. Bernard Tayoh noted that the German Development Agency is pleased to be partnering ECOWAS and is steadfast in its support for the regional programmes which strengthens the customs code, rules of origin, draft regulation on mutual administrative assistance on customs matters.

He pledged that the GIZ will continue to stand by the community as it has always done with the aim of deepening regional integration.

The exercise is being supported by the European Union and the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The adoption of the community texts will consolidate the Customs Union which in turn is expected to be strengthened by the forthcoming adoption of the ECOWAS Commercial Policy, paving way for a desirable regional common Market.

The work of the delegates will be presented to the Directors-General of Customs and subsequently to the Ministers in charge of Finance of Member states for endorsement.

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