Senate Asks FG to Suspend Trade Liberalisation Scheme with ECOWAS

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Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Senate yesterday advised the federal government to suspend its trade liberalisation scheme and common external tariffs with the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS).

The resolution was the aftermath of a motion by Senator Hope Uzodimma in which he alleged the abuse of customs, tariffs and indiscriminate issuance of fiscal policies which he said had negative effects on the nation’s economy.

The Senate also urged the federal government to review the process of enacting “tariff handbook” to identify all forms of abuse and revenue leakage.

According to Uzodimma, ECOWAS was empowered in 2000 to ratify common external tariffs (CET) and ECOWAS trade liberalisation scheme (ETLS).

He argued that ECOWAS integration package should not have been signed in the first place because “Nigeria was not and is still not at the same economic level with other West African countries as Nigeria had made a huge industrial advancement and was ready for a giant leap into the league of developed countries.”

He added: “These protocols on economic integration of the West African sub-region were predicated on free movement of goods and services as well as strategic economic convergence criteria of member nations.”

He said the country’s economy especially the manufacturing sector had been negatively affected by ECOWAS protocols, which he said further drove the real sector into economic crisis and consequently forced most manufacturing firms out of the country.

Uzodimma insisted that the ratification of the two protocols were not done in accordance with Section 12 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which he said authorised the National Assembly to ratify all treaties.