ECOWAS urged to adopt Common External Tariff

Mr. Ibrahim Akalbila, National Coordinator of the Ghana Trade and
Livelihoods Coalition (GTLC) has appealed to the governments of
English-speaking countries in West Africa to treat the adoption of a
common external tariff (CET) as a matter of urgency.

In
an interview with the Ghana News Agency on the sidelines of the
sub-regional integration forum held in Po, Burkina Faso, Mr Ibrahim
said the idea of a CET had been on the drawing board for far too long
and a concrete action needed to be taken on it now.

"We need to
speed up the process of the adoption of CET if the removal of barriers
on the trans-ECOWAS Highways is to benefit the people of ECOWAS," he
said.

The common external tariff is a mild form of economic
union that may lead to further types of economic integration. Besides,
having the same customs duties, the countries may have other common
trade policies, such as having the same quotas, preferences or other
non-tariff trade regulations apply to all goods entering the area,
regardless of which country within the area they are entering.

The French Speaking countries in the sub-region already operate a four band CET levels of 0, 5, 10 and 20.
Mr Akalbila said the general consensus was for the English speaking
countries to adopt the same tariff band in order to harmonise tariff
levels in the sub-region.

However, Nigeria is proposing a fifth band of 50 per cent.

He
emphasized that governments of the sub-region must adopt and use the
Common External Tariff (CET) as a means to safeguard the regional
market from the influx of cheap and subsidized imports from the
developed countries.

Touching on the forum, Mr Akalbila
urged the governments of Ghana and Burkina Faso to develop mechanisms
to ensure wider participation of the general public in issues of
integration.

There is also the need for both countries to
implement the ECOWAS Agriculture Policy (ECOWAP), since it provided all
the safeguards and protection for the development of agriculture in the
sub-region.

He said that, the ECOWAP had laudable objectives such as ensuring food security for rural and urban populations.

Mr
Akalbila said with support and guidance of leaders on the continent the
goal of total integration of member countries would be attained.

The
forum was organized by the Ghana Trade and Livelihood Coalition and
their counterparts in Burkina Faso, Organisation pour le Reinforcement
des Capacites de Development (ORCADE) aimed at giving impetus to
efforts at regional integration, using Ghana and Burkina Faso as a case
study.

It was held on the theme: "Effective Regional Integration for Better and Sustainable Development."

Source: GNA