The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has extolled the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS)’s recent policy to approve the new Common External Tariff (CET), which is scheduled to take effect from January 1, 2015.
The President, LCCI, Mr. Goddie Ibru, explained that this move by ECOWAS would advance the cause of economic integration of the West African sub-region and also improve the collective well being of the citizens of the sub-region.
Ibru, during the chamber’s 125th Annual General Meeting (AGM), stressed that the policy would also promote the development of the various economies, stating that this intended to be achieved through improved resource allocation which the integration process is expected to bring about.
He added that the CET is expected to consolidate the sub-region as a customs union and create a market of about 500 million people, maintaining that this would provide opportunities for investors through the advantage of economies of scale.
“However, the regime of the new CET will come with some challenges, especially for the Nigerian manufacturing sector. The highlights of the new policy regime include scrapping of import prohibition list, scrapping of export prohibition list, abrogation of import duty waivers, abrogation of import levies and loss of sovereign authority on tariff policy,” he said.
He stated that the implication of all the conditions for the economy particularly the manufacturing sector will be profound and far reaching saying that currently, the Nigerian manufacturing suffers some major competitiveness issues which include high energy costs, high cost of funds, high regulatory charges and the likes.
“These are issues to worry about especially at a time when unemployment has become a major problem for the economy. As domestic investors, we should brace up for the challenges and opportunities that new CET regime would offer,” he added.
He also noted that progress made so far on the power sector reform particularly on the privatisation of the sector and however stated, that the power situation continues to pose very serious challenge to operators.
He noted that according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Gross Domestic Products (GDP) growth rate for the second quarter of 2013 was 6.18 per cent as against 6.56 per cent in the first quarter and 6.39 per cent recorded in the second quarter of 2012.
He however stated that when compared with the global output growth of 3.5 per cent, Nigeria’s growth performance could be considered satisfactory.
“But from our perspective as private sector players, the economic conditions were difficult and the challenges of doing business remained formidable. The environment was characterised by the usual problems of high cost of doing business,” he said.
The LCCI boss said the inflation rate moderate to 7.8 per cent in October from 8 per cent in September on a year on year basis saying that the moderation was attributed largely to decline in food prices.
He said food inflation moderated from 9.2 per cent in October to 9.4 per cent in September pointing out that core inflation rates have however been on the rise since July highlighting underlying pressure on the prices of non-farm produce in the household consumption basket.