The Common External Tariffs (CET) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will raise the import tariffs of member countries in general by 0.308 per cent.
According to a customs document on the new tariff scheme this means that shippers will pay between 11.38 per cent and 12 per cent more (according to the simple weighted average rate) for their imports.
The document, however, notes that the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) tariffs which used to be relatively low will increase with the implementation of the CET, making tariff to drop in some ECOWAS countries.
“By contrast, tariff rates of other ECOWAS countries will generally fall. Such a leveling of rates is necessary to achieve harmonisation,” the document observes.
The CET is one of the instruments of the Customs Union at the second level of the ECOWAS integration after free trade. Nigeria, being a leading member of the ECOWAS has begun the implementation of the CET effectively this month, six months away from its January 1, 2015, original kick off date.
At the official launch of the implementation of the CET at the Nigeria Customs Training College in Lagos, recently, a senior official of the commission, Mr Felix Kwakye, said the trade would play a critical role in further enhancing economic integration among member countries as well as raise internal productivity within each country.
Kwakye said the ECOWAS CET would create a common market for member countries as it is one of its focus.
The CET will establish a system where once an importer bringing goods into Nigeria pays tariff in the country of first entry within the ECOWAS region, it would no longer be required to pay in the country of final destination. The ECOWAS CET has provision for temporary Import Adjustment Tax (IAT) which was accommodated to allow countries to adjust to the scheme during the 5-year transitional period, ending in 2019.
“The ECOWAS member states are permitted to apply temporary provisions such as the IAT and Special Protection Tax (SPT) to allow them adjust to the tariff system.
The application of the SPT is contingent on the behaviour of import volumes and import prices following the entry into force of the ECOWAS CET while the IAT is designed to help countries that have to adjust to a lower tariff structure undergo a smooth transition,” he explained.