AfCFTA: Customs Boss Laments Poor Preparedness of Government Towards Implementation

By DAPO OLAWUNI

Even though implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) was expected to commence in January, the federal government apparently is lagging behind, compared to other African countries.

Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col Hameed Ali (Rtd) argued that there are steps which must be taken to enable smooth and full implementation of the AfCFTA.

He said that up till now, the Customs is yet to integrate all data associated with AfCFTA into its system for easy deployment, access and use by the trading public.

In a press statement signed by National Public Relations Officer of Customs, Deputy Controller Joseph Attah, Col Ali said the Customs still awaits the National Action Committee (NAC) to provide the list of duties and charges waived for liberalized goods under AfCFTA.

Others are; The list of the 90% liberalized National Trade Offers;
The list of 70% Non-liberalized exclusive goods at the regional level, and the list of 3% Non-Liberalized sensitive goods.

He also said there should be an appointment of a competent Authority responsible for issuing and authenticating certificates of origin and registering enterprises and products within the region.

“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”

“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 recommended 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”

“We look with optimism to an era of complete economic integration which will lead to growth and prosperity for businesses within the region” he said

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