NigExit: Senate Urges FG To Leave ECOWAS

Our Reporter
NigExit: Senate Urges FG To Leave ECOWAS

Senate on Tuesday urged Federal Government to suspend forthwith the ECOWAS Trade liberalization scheme and ECOWAS common External Tarriffs Nigeria entered into 2000.


Senate wants Nigeria to pull out of the two economic treaties as a result of what it considers to be a breach of ECOWAS Protocols and economic sabotage.


Senate resolution follows a motion from Chairman Senate Committee on Customs, Senator Hope Uzodinnma.


Uzodinnma notes with serious concern the abuse of customs tariff  as well as other nefarious fiscal policies by other member states to the detriment of the Nigerian economy.


He notes that Nigeria's economy was better off before it joined the ECOWAS arrangement that has now left it in bad shape.


" I'm aware that prior to training of the ECOWAS Trade Integration protocols, the Nigerian economy was boomining with the manufacturing sector having at least 70-75% capacity utilization with oil prices going for between $80-$120 per barrel, he said.


Uzodinma said the two ECOWAS Protocols , CET and ETLS  damaged the real and manufacturing sectors causing the exit of manufacturing firms like Dunlop, Michelin and Lever Brothers from Nigeria and relocate to neighbouring ECOWAS States to manufacture and ship same products back to Nigerian market at zero duty.


Apart from the huge revenue loss , the situation compounded unemployment in Nigeria; two factors Uzodinna said Nigeria should no longer tolerate.


A fall out of the formation of ECOWAS was the ratification of Common External Tarriffs  (CET) and ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS).


The protocols were predicated on free movement of goods and services as well as strategic economic convergence criteria of member states.


The criteria includes harmonizing all customs duties across the board for all imports from a third party country and a "rule of origin" which allows goods manufactured in member state  will be imported into any member state at zero percent duty.


Senate however observed that the concept has led to the collaspe of manufacturing sector in Nigeria with member States employing sharp practices to repackage products from Asia into Nigeria at zero percent duty.


It specifically noted how vegetable oil from Asia find their way to Nigeria from huge tank farms built in Cote d' Ivoire where ship from Malaysia and other Asian countries dump their vegetable oil before repackaging it for export to Nigeria.


Senate is worried about what it considers as "economic sabotage" and "breach of protocol especially from Nigeria's closest neighbour, Benin Republic which has been a smuggling depot for rice and vehicle imports for the Nigerian market.


Senate is also worried that the two protocols would make it difficult for Nigeria's fiscal policies on rice, vehicle imports as well as agriculture and solid minerals to achieve desired purpose.


Senate therefore resolved that FG should suspend the two ECOWAS Protocols, an arrangement experts believe "technically" exits Nigeria from the regional body.


It also urged Federal Government to review the process of enacting the tariff handbook to identify all abuses and revenue l eakages.


It resolves that Senate most approved all tarriff regime before implementation.


The matter is referred to Committee on Customs which is expected to conduct public hearing on it.


ECOWAS was established in 1975 with Nigeria playing a pivotal role in the establishment of the economic regional body.

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