Madam Sylvia Asana Dauda Owu, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers' Authority (GSA), has said the implementation of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) would provide better trade policy across the sub-region.
She said this would include applying special protection measures aimed at addressing any trade imbalances across Member States thereby providing a real boost to the manufacturing sector and trading in general.
Madam Owu said this at a training workshop on the implementation of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff in Aflao in the Volta Region.
The workshop was organized by the Borderless Alliance, in collaboration with the Ghana Shippers Authority with support from German International Cooperation, for customs officials, shippers, private sector traders and other business associations.
The CET is aimed at ensuring transparent customs procedures, reducing border delays and facilitating intra-regional trade. The decision to have a Common External Tariff was taken at an extraordinary meeting of Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) held in Dakar, Senegal, on 25th October 2013.
The implementation of the CET started from 1st January 2015 in some countries in the sub-region, and in Ghana on 1st February 2016.
'The implementation of CET would see to the establishment of a system where goods coming into any of the ECOWAS countries will be paid in the country of first entry within the ECOWAS region and the importer would no longer be required to pay in the country of final destination', she said.
She explained that the process was expected to lead to the reduction of transaction time and cost, adding that low-income countries would benefit from pushing for a renegotiation of the CET.
Madam Owu said since smaller low-income members have similar production and tariff structures, they would also benefit from closer cooperation and developing a common stance for trade integration.
She said the Authority has over the years collaborated with Customs, the Borderless Alliance and other key stakeholders in the trade and transport industry to remain competitive in the international logistics chain.
Madam Owu said Article 3 of the revised ECOWAS Treaty defines the aims of the community as promoting 'co-operation and integration, leading to the establishment of an economic union in West Africa'.
She said in order to achieve this, the community is to ensure, in stages, among other means, the establishment of a common market through the adoption of a common external tariff and a common trade policy vis-Ã -vis third countries.
Mrs Afua Eshun, Advocacy Manager for Borderless Alliance, said the workshop aims at strengthening the capacity of customs officials at the border in understanding the CET and raise awareness among the private sector and cross-border traders for a better understanding of the provisions of the CET.
The Borderless Alliance, is a private sector led advocacy platform established in 2011 with the support of USAID West Africa Trade Hub to address the barriers affecting regional trade.
The Alliance uses evidence based advocacy to promote the vision of free trade for producers, importers, exporters, and financial institutions and promote practical improvements to transport, free movement of goods, capital and services in West Africa.