By Maimuna Sey-Jawo
The fourth meeting of director generals of the Ecowas states on the consolidation of the Ecowas Customs Union recently wrapped up in Abuja, Nigeria.
The seven-day meeting was attended by 14 West African countries including The Gambia.
The Gambia was represented by Alagie Mbye, the manager of seaport customs operation on behalf of the commissioner general Yankuba Darboe.
The meeting on the state of the Ecowas Customs Union was held under the theme ‘Information Exchange and Cooperation Between Customs Administrations As A Concerted Response To The Obstacle To The Free Movement Of Goods, Security, Challenges And Resurgence Of Illicit Trafficking’.
The forum also provided the Ecowas Commission the opportunity to present ongoing projects and seek the validation of new draft texts on customs and tax issues that will contribute to the consolidation of the customs union in West Africa.
After days of deliberation on the said agenda, a report was submitted by the experts and the director generals adopted it after review for submission to the ministers of finance for consideration.
During the meeting, director generals made different presentation on various topics, among them the state of play of the Ecowas Customs Union, presentation of the application for the automated management of transit goods in the Ecowas region (interconnectivity ), presentation of the draft supplementary act laying down the community rules of origin and procedures applicable to goods originating in Ecowas among other things.
In her official opening remarks, the Minister of Finance of Nigeria, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, welcomed the delegates and expressed hope that the outcome of the meeting will further deepen the Ecowas Customs Union.
She told participants that the meeting will be presented with a number of instruments aimed at consolidating the customs union and advancing some associated fiscal matters and called on them to take the opportunity to harness the positives in their various country experiences and peer exchange to improve and approve the instruments.
Furthermore, she enjoined participants to dispassionately consider the matters before them in the regional interest and expressed her that the outcome will significantly enhance regional customs integration and fiscal cooperation, in a manner that would improve trade, curtail tax malpractices, while increasing national revenues.
On behalf of the president of the Ecowas Commission, Halima Ahmed, commissioner for finance seized the opportunity to recall the over four-decade-old commitment of the region to a process of integration and cooperation.
He commended the unshakeable conviction and determination of the Ecowas Authority of Heads of State and Government to make regional integration a potent, viable tool for accelerating and achieving the sustainable development in the region.