Following the ratification of African Continental Free Trade Area AfCFTA agreement by member nations, the Nigeria Customs Service NCS has explained key steps to enable a smooth and full implementation.
The AfCFTA agreement effective January 1, 2021 covers 54 African countries merging into a single market of 1.3 billion people, to create a vehicle for Africa’s economic transformation.
The Customs Public Relations Officer, DC Joseph Attah noted that instead of proceeding in a chaotic manner, the Customs Service as a policy implementor understood the importance of spelling out the roles and responsibilities of all parties in the AfCFTA agreement and the conditions attendant on its implementation.
He reiterated that with the duty of Customs as a trade facilitator and its functions, highly automated and primarily systems driven, there is the essential need to methodically harvest and integrate all data associated with AfCFTA into its system for easy deployment, access and use by the trading public.
Attah revealed that the customs however awaits the National Action Committee (NAC) on the list of duties and charges waived for liberalized goods under AfCTA, list of the 90% liberalized National Trade Offers, list of 7% Non-liberalized exclusive goods at the regional level as well as the list of 3% Non-Liberalized sensitive goods.
It also awaits the appointment of a competent Authority responsible for issuing and authenticating certificates of origin and registering enterprises and products within the region.
The Customs spokesperson said, “the Service acknowledges the transformational impact the agreement portends for businesses within the continent in general and Nigeria in particular and are fully committed to its success.
“Further, the Service recommends that each member country should have a representative in the continental Chamber of Commerce to ensure transparency within the body thereby generating confidence in the system.
“This in our view should be complementary to the activities of the various Chambers of Commerce of each country in the region.
“While awaiting clear directives concerning tariffs for all goods covered by this agreement, we want to assure the public of our preparedness to fully deploy our services at the shortest notice.
“Our desire is to imbue trust in the system while guaranteeing the economic safety and wellbeing of businesses within the country.”
The Customs stated that it looks with optimism to an era of complete economic integration which will lead to growth and prosperity for businesses within the region.