On 21 April 2021, the World Customs Organization (WCO) announced that in order to keep up the momentum in the process of implementation of HS2022 amendments, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had held a regional meeting of tariff experts, from 12 to 16 April 2021 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. It was jointly organised by the ECOWAS Commission and the WCO, in the context of the EU-WCO Programme for the Harmonized System in Africa (HS-Africa Programme), funded by the European Union.
The meeting brought together tariff experts from ECOWAS Member states, the ECOWAS Commission, the Commission of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) and the WCO. The two Regional Economic Communities have long established a coordination mechanism on tariff matters, given the overlapping membership and policies with regard to the implementation of the Common External Tariff (CET).
During the meeting, the experts examined a draft CET based on the 2022 version of the HS and reviewed a wide range of outstanding issues with regard to the implementation of the new version of the Tariff. Particular attention was paid to developing regional correlation tables to reflect transposition of tariff lines at the level beyond the HS six-digit codes, checking technical accuracy of the draft tariff, and aligning the new CET on WCO Recommendations related to the HS. The draft CET will be submitted for endorsement to the Joint ECOWAS-UEMOA Tariff Committee later in the year and to the Ministers of Finance for formal approval.
The meeting reiterated the unwavering commitment of the ECOWAS, the UEMOA and their Members to timely and coordinated implementation of the HS2022 amendments. The two Regional Economic Communities expressed their appreciation to the WCO and the European Union for the continued support and welcomed the opportunity to further build up cooperation in this area.
Story by: Riaan de Lange