There are indications that the inability to effectively implement the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS), has caused about 80 per cent of West African countries not to comply with the ECOWAS protocols, resulting in setbacks in intra -African trade.
Nigerian exporters revealed in Lagos that non -compliance level and Harmonised System (HS) code challenges are threatening the successful implementation of the ETLS in West Africa and this is consequently hindering smooth trade facilitation between Nigeria and her counterparts in the sub-region.
Speaking on the current status of implementation of the ETLS, a local exporter and member of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Export Promotion Group (MANEG), Kola Awe, said only very few countries, namely; Benin Republic, Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire, are where ETLS are accepted and complied with, adding that the non -compliance with the scheme has caused economic losses to Nigeria as many exported goods were turned back without getting to their destinations.
Awe faulted that Federal Government’s National Approval Committee under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for not resolving the challenges of compliance and HS code.
“The major challenge in ETLS is compliance. More than 80 per cent of the countries in the region don’t comply. The only country that complied with the ETLS comfortably is Benin Republic. ETLS is not about you having the certificate that qualifies for it. That is what some people don’t know. There are other adjoining documents you need to have to make you actually qualify for the ETLS, so the certificate alone is not enough.
“If you carry out an informal export and you don’t have the SDG from Nigeria, there is no way you can apply for the ETLS or the ETLS will be granted to you. There are lots of documents that need to be put in place including your ECOWAS Certificate of Origin and the certificate from the international chamber of commerce. That is a simple procedural thing.