The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has expressed disappointment over poor trading between West African countries, under the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which ranks the region fourth in trading among themselves within the continent.
Speaking over the weekend, the Customs Area Controller, (CAC), Seme Border Command, Compt. Dera Nnadi stated that, among the African continent, ECOWAS Ranks low in intra African trade as the bloc isn’t taking advantage of its population to maximise trade potentials among themselves.
According to him, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) with a population of 69.2 million people ranks first in trading among themselves at 32.12 per cent.
He said: “among the trade blocs in Africa, the ECOWAS region has a population of 428.6 million people and ranks second in Africa after the East Africa region with a population of 474.9 million people. It is expected that the potential inherent in this advantageous position will be translated to increased trade among countries of the ECOWAS subregion especially between Nigeria and the Republic of Benin with a combined population of nearly 250 million people.
“Sadly, ECOWAS ranks fourth at 10 per cent when it comes to trade within the African Continent. Southern African Development Community (SADC) with a population of 69.2 million people ranks first in trading among themselves at 32.12 percent; Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) at 20.32 per cent and Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) at 16.59 per cent.
This is an indication that the ECOWAS region is yet to maximise the gains of ETLS. Again, this underscores the level of our limited preparedness for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).”
Compt. Nnadi who has been redeployed to Tin-Can Island command of the service also bemoaned poor trading between Nigeria and Benin Republic.
Nnadi stated that factors such as non-adherence to transit agreements under ECOWAS, World Trade Organisation (WTO), World Customs Organisation (WCO) and the General Agreement on Trade and Tariff as well as border closure were responsible for the low ranking.
He pledged to adopt new strategies to boost trade while enforcing the nation’s anti-smuggling laws along the Abidjan Lagos Corridor (ALCO) in line with the ECOWAS protocols on free movement of goods and persons.
“It is important to note that the Nigeria 2022 Fiscal Policy Measures by the Federal Ministry of Finance lifted the ban on export of goods imported into Nigeria hitherto prohibited under item 8 Schedule 6 of the Common External Tariff. It is hoped that our stakeholders take full advantage of this gesture while our brothers from other countries in the sub-region particularly the Republic of Benin will reciprocate this gesture where there are existing trade barriers.”
“It is gratifying to note that the CGC and the government of both countries and the stakeholders are all on the same page regarding the need to improve our relationship with a view to maximise the opportunities offered by the proximity of our two countries to the border and develop trade along the corridor,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, the Customs boss declared that the Seme border command of the service, within the review period, recorded various seizures with a Duty Paid Value of N1.82 billion.
He listed the items seized to include; 9,500 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice equivalent to 16 trailer loads with Duty Paid Value of N312.2 million and 13, 835 x 30 litres Jerrycans of Premium Motor Spirit equivalent to 415, 050 litres or 13 petroleum tankers with Duty Paid Value of N738.2 million.
Others are; 15,389 of general merchandise goods hard drugs and narcotics; 41 parcels of cannabis sativa, 4,900 Tablets 225mg of Tramadol Tamol-X 3,600 Tablets 225mg Tramadol Royal 225, 157 Tablets of Heineken Ecstasy and 864 packs of cigarette.
“In the same vein, Officers and Men of the Command acting on credible intelligence intercepted 1,364 30 Litres Jerrycans of PMS equivalent to 40,800 litres over one Tanker Load and with a DPV of N24.6 million, at the early hours of Friday 8th September, 2023 along the Badagry coast. The duty paid value for items seized for the period January to 8th September is N1.82 billion,” he said.