By Innocent Orok
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is taking steps to see to the smooth implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which kick -off this January .
In a press statement issued by Joseph Attah, National Public Relations Officer of the Service on behalf of the Comptroller General of Customs, he says the NCS as a policy implementor understands the importance of spelling out roles and responsibilities of parties in the agreement.
His statement reads “sequel to the ratification of AfCFTA by member nations, the Nigeria Customs Service has found it pertinent to inform the public about steps which must be taken to enable it’s smooth and full implementation. 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 reconfirm 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.
The Service says it awaits the following: 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 list of 70% Non-liberalized exclusive goods at the regional level. The list of 3% Non-Liberalized sensitive goods and the appointment of a competent Authority responsible for issuing and authenticating certificates of origin and registering enterprises and products within the region.
It further stated that “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 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 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”, the Customs said.