|Accra – Ghana; Come January 1st, 2022, ECOWAS Countries would join the World Customs Or-ganisation with a stonger and more harmonised Custom Union, with the Migration from HS2017 to HS2022. This was one of the major outcome from the 6th meeting of ECOWAS Minis-ters of Finance in the city of Accra, 12th November, 2021. The honorable Ministers reveiwed and validated the draft text on the various supplementary acts and regulations including the Acts Community levy, Acts on Community trnasit guarantee mechanism, texts relating to the consolidation of ECOWAS Customs Union, among others, as recommended from the just con-cluded Directors General of Customs meeting in Accra also. This approved recommendations will be presented at the next council of ministers in december, 2021 for adoption and further implemntation in member States.With the implementation of the Common External Tariff (CET) in 14 ECOWAS member states and Mauritania and the advent of the African continental Free Trade agreement (AfCFTA) it has become emperative to review other equally important trade facilitation and Customs instru-ments that will make the ECOWAS region a strong and economically competitive community. The ministers also reviewed the status and level of implementation of the recomendations from the 5th meeting of ECOWAS of finance.
Commissioner Konzi Tei, of ECOWAS Trade, Customs and Free Movement in his welcome address, emphasized on the importance of the revised additional Act setting the conditions, modalities of application, monitoring and management of the ECOWAS community levy, co-mes 25 years after its adoption, in responds to concerns expressed by member states on some fundamental provisions often giving rise to divergent interpretations or to an absence of de-tails in certain articles of the said protocol.
Hon. Mrs Abena Osei-Asare Deputy Minister of Finance represented the Honorable Minister of Finance for Ghana, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, and on behalf of the President of Ghana and Chair of ECOWAS Authority, H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, welcomed all participants to the city of Accra and appreciate the high level of participation despite how challenging traveling across the region has become due to the Covid-19 restrictions. She commended the Commission for the tiemly meeting, which sought to address pertinent challenges in the interpretation and implementation of the Community Levy Protocol as well as putting in place insturments to support, enhance the fluidity of intra-community trade and strengthen the ECOWAS Customs union and promote intra-community trade in “made-in-ECOWAS” goods among others.
Mr. Massimo Mina, Head of Cooperation European Union’s delegation in Ghana, said beyond trade and ionvestment, West Africa has become a strategic region to Africa, Europe and the world as a whole. With the coming into force of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the entire continent is primed to become a free trade area, we acknowledge the lea-dership of the ECOWAS region in the negociation process and expressed the readiness of the EU and other development Partners in supporting the integration efforts of ECOWAS and its Member States
The ECOWAS Finance Commissioner Mrs. Halima Ahmed, who represented the President of ECOWAS Commission H.E. Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, sstressed the need to strengthen regional economic cooperation and integration in order to harness the resources of Member States for the benefit of all citizens.
Mrs. Ahmed obsrved that the challenges with the implementation of the Community levy pro-tocol have adversely affected the capacity of the Community to carry out its responsibilities, hence the need for its revision. She further urged the Community to leverage on the benefits of information and communication technology, to reform the various community instruments and impact on the cross-border movement of goods in West Africa and also promote trade in locally made products to stimulate economic growth and development in the region.
Aside from the Ministers of Finance from member states, the Directors General of Customs of ECOWAS member states, Experts from the customs and Industry/Trade/Finance experts across the ECOWAS member states, The Islamic Republic of Mauritania, ECOWAS and UEMOA Com-missions are all expected to participate at the meeting.