The ECOWAS Commission, via the Directorate of Customs Union and Taxation, held the 6th meeting of Heads of Customs of ECOWAS member states on the ECOWAS community levy and the consolidation of the ECOWAS customs union in Accra, on the 11th of November 2021.
The main objective of this meeting is to examine and validate the under listed community legislation which is meant to improve the collection and management of Community levy, secure revenue collection, enhance the fluidity of intra-community trade and strengthen the ECOWAS Customs union:
- Draft Supplementary Act laying down the conditions and modalities of application, monitoring, and management of the Community levy
- Draft Supplementary Act on ECOWAS Community Transit
- Draft Regulation relating to the modalities for the functioning of the ECOWAS community transit guarantee mechanism
- Draft Regulation relating to the additional modalities for the application and management of decisions, including advance rulings, relating to the implementation of Community Customs regulations.
- Draft Regulation relating to the determination of Community regime for customs duty reliefs in the ECOWAS Region.
- Draft Regulation amending regulation C/REG.18/12/16 of 18 December 2016 defining the list of categories of goods contained in the ECOWAS Tariff and Statistical Nomenclature and the adoption of the 2022 amendments of the Harmonized System nomenclature.
- Draft Regulation on the procedures for the recognition and certification of the origin of products from ECOWAS member states
- Draft Regulation on the determination of the components of ex-factory price and the value of non-originating materials.
Col. Kwadwo Damoah (rtd), Commissioner Ghana Customs, chaired the meeting and in his welcome address, he welcomed all esteemed participants to Accra on behalf of the President of Ghana and Chair of ECOWAS Authority, H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. He acknowledged with great delight, the high turnout of delegates despite the challenges faced from the Covid-19 pandemic. He reemphasized the importance of tariffs in revenue mobilization within the subregion as well as the obligation for Member States to go along with the World Customs Organisation (WCO) in implementation of the best practices in order to deliver world-class services to our clients, he said.
Col Damoah, said the two top issues expected in the report which need urgent attention are the Community Levy and the Transit of goods and services across ECOWAS borders for trade facilitation by removing the numerous barriers across the transit corridors like delays, revenue leakages, high costs of duties, etc. One of the major issues, that expects discussed at their technical meetings is the national guarantor, which goes a long way and eliminates a lot of the problems at our various corridors, he ended.
Madam Halima Ahmed, in her opening marks, said as Commissioner for Finance, stressed the importance and the critical role of the ECOWAS Customs authorities play in the mobilization of vital resources for the Community. I am, therefore, very happy to be here to personally wish you the best in your deliberations. I thank you sincerely for your unwavering support in the implementation of the Protocol on the Community Levy. The Community Levy has significantly improved the revenue profile of ECOWAS and it contributes about 80% of the Community finances. This would not have been possible without your cooperation and support. We are, therefore, grateful. She said.
This meeting is historic in view of the number and relevance of the regulations presented for your consideration. These instruments are critical for the promotion of economic integration and development of our sub-region. They are the pillars upon which a solid economic union would be built. This cannot be achieved without your inputs. We, therefore, welcome your usual insights and recommendations which would help us to do better. She added.
ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement, Mr. Konzi Tei, explained that the 6th meeting is being held in a context marked by the persistence of the COVID19 pandemic impacts which has slowed down the world trade and on the logistics chain of supplying goods to States. He however praised the customs administrations for their resilience and effective mobilizing public resources for their various Governments and ECOWAS through funds collection for the Community Levy.
Furthermore, I would like to inform you that the process of the interconnection of customs administrations is continuing despite the COVID 19 pandemic which has impacted and changed the world order. With the operationalization of the Interconnected System for the Management of Goods in Transit (SIGMAT), he noted that seven (7) States are already interconnected. Training on the functional specificities of SIGMAT was organized for Ghana, Nigeria, and The Gambia. The mobile version, as well as the rail version of SIGMAT, are in the process of being operationalized. Tests have already been carried out, he said.
The various supplementary Acts and regulations as recommended and validated from this meeting will be presented to the ECOWAS Minister’s of Finance tomorrow, 12th November 2021 to be reviewed and approved for submission to the Council of Ministers in December 2021.