The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has raised some questions regarding the work culture, rules and processes consistent in some member states, which should be put in place to ensure a sustainable drive of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA); to attract its support.
The Service note that it is not obliged to work under a chaotic manner, and has therefore, demanded member states to provide a properly delineate clear roles and responsibilities for all participants in line with AfCFTA charter.
The Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retired) said the clarification becomes necessary to avoid running into problems, noting as the implementing agency, the customs has the responsibility to ensure that policy direction of Nigeria are not compromised on the altar of the regional trade charter.
In a statement signed on his behalf by the Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Customs Service, Deputy Comptroller Joseph Attah, Ali said, its position is to understand and to be equally genuinely understood as the process takes off, bearing in mind that Nigeria Customs is automated and cannot be dragged otherwise.
He said, “Sequel to the ratification of AfCFTA by member nations, the Nigeria Customs Service has found it pertinent to inform the public about steps which must be taken to enable it’s smooth and full implementation. Instead of proceeding in a chaotic manner, the Nigeria Customs Service as policy implementor understands the importance of spelling out the roles and responsibilities of all parties in this agreement and the conditions attendant on its implementation.
“We wish to re-confirm our willingness and readiness to play our role as trade facilitators in this regard. However, we also wish to remind the public that our functions are highly automated and primarily systems driven. Hence the need to methodically harvest and integrate all data associated with AfCFTA into our system for easy deployment, access and use by the trading public.”
Ali also sought further clarification on duty waivers and the ECOWAS Liberalization Scheme, issues of products certification, including identity of critical participants in the process.
“We therefore await; National Action Committee (NAC) on the list of duties and charges waived for liberalized goods under AfCTA. The list of the 90% liberalized National Trade Offers. The list of 70% Non-liberalized exclusive goods at the regional level. The list of 3% Non-Liberalized sensitive goods. The appointment of a competent Authority responsible for issuing and authenticating certificates of origin and registering enterprises and products within the region.
While commending the expected positive impact AfCFTA will have on the region’s business future outlook, Ali requested member states to show presence at the African Chamber of Commerce to drive efficient outcomes through transparency.
“NCS acknowledges the transformational impact this 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 Nigeria Customs boss expressed optimism that an efficient driven AfCFTA will bring about complete economic integration that will lead to growth and prosperity for businesses within the region.