The 1st meeting of the joint ECOWAS-UEMOA Committee for the management of the ECOWAS Customs Union began in Abuja, Nigeria on the 20th of November 2017.

 

Delegates at the meeting drawn from ECOWAS Member States, will brief the Committee on the state of implementation of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) in their respective countries and discuss the revised text on the ECOWAS Trade liberalization Scheme (ETLS).

Declaring the meeting open on behalf of the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement Laouali Chaibou, the Principal Programmes Officer, Customs Procedure, Mr. Felix kwame kwakye maintained that a harmonized, functional Customs union for West Africa is central to economic integration hence the issues to be discussed at the meeting “go well beyond the ECOWAS Common External tariff”

He said the expectation of the Commission is for the Committee to “work assiduously towards the consolidation of the ECOWAS Customs union and deepen the economic integration of our dear region”

He reminded the delegates of the recommendation made two years to the effect of the establishment of the joint Committee for the management of the ECOWAS customs union to replace the Joint CET Management Committee which was created by a decision of the ECOWAS Heads of States and Government in January 2006.

According to him, this was necessitated by the need to give the new committee the broader mandate to take on other customs union-related matters such as trade liberalization, trade facilitation, etc. which fall outside the purview of the CET management committee.

The Commissioner expressed the appreciation of the ECOWAS Commission to partners such as Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), European Union (EU) as well as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for their continued support to the integration programmes of the Commission.

Head, GIZ-ECOWAS Support Programme, Mr. Ludwig Kirchner, remarked that his organization deems it fit to lend necessary support towards the achievement of a common customs union in furtherance of the integration of West Africa.

The Director of Customs at the UEMOA Commission Alain Seraphin Pykbougoum gave a rundown of the collaborative efforts of the two Commissions and highlighted other relevant issues which due for further productive deliberations. 

The issues revolved around Free Movement, rules of origin, certificate of origin, trade facilitation as well as modernization of customs operations among others. 

The joint ECOWAS-UEMOA Committee was approved by the ECOWAS Council of ministers and eventually adopted by the Authority of Heads of States and Government in December 2016.

The experts meeting which will close after deliberating on the 60th session of the ECOWAS Technical Committee on Trade, Customs and Free movement of Persons, is a precursor to the Directors-General of Customs and the ECOWAS Ministers of Finance Meetings which are also holding at the ECOWAS Commission headquarters.

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