Absence of clear protocols stalling AfCFTA implementation, says Customs

Towards a seamless implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said it awaits “clear roles and responsibilities of all parties” involved, as the policy implementer.

Restating its readiness as trade facilitator, the NCS said it was important to spell out the roles and responsibilities of all parties in the agreement and the conditions attendant to its implementation in order to avoid a chaos.

Also, it is “pertinent to inform the public about steps which must be taken to enable its smooth and full implementation,” a statement by the Public Relations Officer, Mr. Joseph Attah, on behalf of the Comptroller-General of Customs, explained.

“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.

“We therefore await: The National Action Committee (NAC) on the list of duties and charges waived for liberalised goods under AfCFTA;

“The list of the 90 per cent liberalised national trade offers (NTOs); list of the 70 per cent non-liberalised exclusive goods at the regional level; and list of the 3 per cent non-liberalised sensitive goods;

“The appointment of a competent authority responsible for issuing and authenticating certificates of origin and registering enterprises and products within the region.”

According to the statement, the NCS acknowledges the transformational impact this agreement portends for businesses within the continent in general and Nigeria in particular, and is fully committed to its success.

To that end, it recommended that each member-country should have a representative in the continental chamber of commerce to ensure transparency within the body and generate 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,” it noted.

“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.”

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