The Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, has outlined steps which should be followed to ensure smooth and full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AFCTA.
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) aims to boost intra-African trade by providing a comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade agreement among the member states, covering trade in goods and services, investment, intellectual property rights and competition policy.
And following the ratification of AFCTA by member Nations, the Nigeria Customs Service has come up with steps which it says must be taken to ensure its smooth and full implementation to avoid misconduct and abuse of the policy.
Customs National Public Relations Officer, DC, Joseph Attah disclosed this in a statement issued, and it explicitly spelt out the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved in the agreement and the conditions attendant on its implementation.
It reads: “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 methodologically harvest and integrate all data associated with AfCFTA into our system for easy deployment, access and use by the trading public”.
“We therefore await National Action Committee (NAC) on the list of duties and charges waived for liberalized goods under AfCFTA, the list of the 90% liberalized National Trade Offers, the 7% Non- liberalized exclusive goods at the regional level and the list of 3% Non- Liberalized sensitive goods”.
Furthermore, the organization also expects the appointment of a competent Authority that will be responsible for issuing and authenticating certificates of origin and registering enterprises and products within the region.
In the statement, NCS further acknowledges the transformational impact this agreement portends for business within the Continent in general and Nigeria in particular and are fully committed to its success.
In addition, 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 well-being of businesses within the country”. The organization disclosed.
According to economic pundits, the landmark African Continental Free Trade Area(AfCFTA), agreement, which was expected to be fully operational in 2020, has the potential to create a Continental Free-Trade Zone with a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of USD$3.4 trillion, according to the African Union (AU). This trade agreement, if implemented fully, would become the largest in the world .
The AfCFTA is one of the projects of the First Ten- Year Implementation Plan( 2014-2023) under the AU’s Agenda 2063.