10 December 2012

Towards the Adoption of an ECOWAS Common External Tariff

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Abidjan - Cote d'Ivoire — The 12th meeting of the ECOWAS-UEMOA Joint Management Committee on the Common External Tariff (ECOWAS CET) will take place in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire from 11 to 15 December 2012.

The meeting will enable officials of the ECOWAS and the West Africa Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) Commissions ensure that the technical aspects of the draft ECOWAS CET, based on the 2012 HS version are adopted by experts of Member States on the Committee.

After eleven meetings of the joint Committee, a preliminary draft ECOWAS CET was prepared based on the 2012 version of the Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System. The document was then forwarded to the World Customs Organisation (WCO) with a view to ensuring that the ECOWAS CET is consistent with the international commitments of ECOWAS Member States.

Following comments by the WCO on the preliminary draft, the two Commissions have, over the past three months, conducted additional meetings to fine-tune the ECOWAS CET. The 12th joint meeting will be an opportunity for the Commissions to present the preliminary draft ECOWAS CET to Member States for adoption. The document will subsequently be submitted to ECOWAS statutory bodies in the first quarter of 2013 for validation and adoption.

A regional CET is a major step towards the creation of a customs union within the context of the ECOWAS integration programme and also essential to the conclusion of on-going Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations between West Africa and the European Union. Article 3 of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty (1993), states that the success of West African integration depends on the creation of a common market through trade liberalisation and the adoption of a Common External Tariff.

The ECOWAS CET was adopted in January 2006 by the 22nd Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government. It comprises a Tariff and Statistical Nomenclature based on the WCO's HS version 2012 adopted by the Community, as well as a table of taxes and duties applicable on imports. This table includes Customs Duties, statistical fee, the ECOWAS Community Levy, Regressive Protective Tax and the Short-Term Import Tax.

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