Traders highlight challenges to regional trade
.Seek Harmonization Of Tax By ECOWAS Members
Traders in the West African corridor have highlighted various challenges affecting trade among the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) members.
The traders under the aegis of West African Association for Cross-border Trade in Agro-forestry-pastoral and Fisheries Products (WACTAF), said poor infrastructure, such as poor electricity supply, bad roads, cost of fueling, kidnapping and banditry are seriously affecting trade on the Nigerian corridor.
The group however stated that multi-transit levies, overloading of trucks, de-harmonization of taxes are affecting trade the ECOWAS region generally.
Executive President of WACTAF, Alhaji Salami Nasiru Alasoadua in a presentation Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands, said small scale importers and importers are also faced with documentation challenges, because their trade is informal.
On the need to harmonize taxes on the corridor, he said for example Valued Added Tax (VAT) in Nigeria is 7.5 per cent, CFA Zone 18 per cent, Niger Republic 19 per cent and Ghana 12.5 per cent which is very confusing to traders.
He said West Africa needs to harmonize transit tariff, Axel load policy, VAT, Customs connectivity among member states, enforcement of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) protocols and inter-state policies.
Alasoadua also stressed the need for establishment of export cooperative village and domestic cooperative village to cater for the challenges of small and medium scale importers and exporters.
“Government will need to encourage from the local level or grass root and establish domestic cooperative village by using the platform of co-operative society to produce food for local consumptions and create for export.
“More so, identify the type of product needed for export. These export and domestic cooperative villages can be used for source of raw materials for locals” he stated.
He noted that export opportunities in the areas of agriculture, commodities, manufacturing and services within the northern region were yet to be adequately harnessed, hence deliberate efforts by stakeholders to exploit the potentials should be encouraged.
“We also advice that the federal and state governments in collaboration with the private sector to provide adequate support and direct intervention towards unlocking the export potentials within the six geopolitical zones of the federation,” he added.
The WACTAF president noted that an aggressive promotion and development of non-oil export is the only panacea to the sustainability of the Nigerian economy.
According to him, the non-oil export promotion is an economic task that should no longer attract mere lip service, saying specific programmes, assigning definite responsibilities to the banks, are now overdue.
He also call for creation of more border markets, saying this will facilitate trade among ECOWAS member states; eliminate language barrier and security harassment along the border, where traders will expose their products according to international regulation.