The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) members’ trade is being affected by a number of issues, according to traders in the West African trade corridor.
According to the traders affiliated with the West African Association for Cross-border Trade in Agro-forestry-pastoral and Fisheries Products (WACTAF), banditry, kidnapping, and poor road conditions are all adversely impacting trade along the Nigerian corridor.
However, the group claimed that de-harmonized taxes, truck overloading, and multi-transit charges are all harming trade throughout the ECOWAS area.
In a presentation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands, Alhaji Salami Nasiru Alasoadua, Executive President of WACTAF, stated that small-scale importers and importers confront documentation issues as a result of their informal commerce.
Regarding the requirement to harmonize taxes along the corridor, he cited the highly confusing Value Added Tax (VAT) rates of 7.5% in Nigeria, 18.5% in the CFA Zone, 19.5% in the Niger Republic, and 12.5% in Ghana as examples.
Axel load policy, VAT, customs connectivity between member states, enforcement of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) protocols, and inter-state rules, according to him, need to be harmonized across West Africa.
In order to address the needs of small and medium-sized importers and exporters, Alasoadua also emphasized the necessity of establishing export cooperative villages and domestic cooperative villages.
“The government will need to support grassroots initiatives at the local level and set up domestic cooperative villages using the cooperative society as a platform to grow food for both domestic use and export.
“More importantly, specify the category of product required for export. These cooperative villages for export and internal usage might serve as a supply of raw resources for the community, he said.
He pointed out that the northern region’s export opportunities in the sectors of agriculture, commodities, manufacturing, and services had not yet been fully realized, thus intentional efforts by stakeholders to take advantage of the potentials should be encouraged.
We also recommend that the federal and state governments work with the private sector to give enough support and direct action to help the six geopolitical zones of the federation realize their export potential.
The WACTAF president remarked that the only way to ensure the sustainability of the Nigerian economy is through active promotion and growth of non-oil export.
He asserts that the development of non-oil exports is an economic duty that should no longer be met with merely lip service and that it is pastime for particular programs that assign clear obligations to the banks.
Additionally, he calls for the development of new border markets, arguing that doing so will promote trade among ECOWAS members, remove security concerns and language barriers at the border, and allow traders to display their goods by international standards.