Trade Policy

ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET)

The ECOWAS Tariff and Statistics Nomenclature is a Common customs nomenclature based on the harmonized system of description and coding of goods (HS) adopted by the Community. It is a 10-digit Tariff and Statistical Nomenclature defining the list of goods making up the Tariff and Statistics Nomenclature categories of the CET.

Common External Tariff (CET) is a key feature of a Customs Union.  CET is the application of the same customs duties, import quotas and preferences by a group of countries in a customs union. The said import duties, quotas and preferences are applicable to good entering the region of the customs union irrespective of the country of first entry of the goods.

The Common External Tariff is one of the principal instruments for harmonizing ECOWAS Member States and strengthening its Common Market. In order to establish an economic union, the community is to ensure, in stages, among other means, the establishment of a common market through “the adoption of a common external tariff and a common trade policy vis-à-vis third countries…” To this end, the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government established an ECOWAS Customs necessitating the formulation of a common external tariff with a common nomenclature so that customs procedures are transparent, readily followed and delays at borders decreased, is a key stone in achieving this union. In January 2006 in Niamey, The Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS adopted a decision establishing the ECOWAS-CET which draws on the basic UEMOA CET composed of four tariff bands, or rates of customs duty. Below is a table depicting the four tariff bands:

Categories Percentage of Duties Goods Description
0 0% Essential social goods.
1 5% Goods of primary necessity, raw materials and specific inputs.
2 10% Intermediate goods.
3 20% Final Consumption goods.

The ECOWAS tariff nomenclature has been migrated from 2007 to the 2012 version (HS2012) introduced by the World Customs Organization (WCO).

On 25th October 2013, ECOWAS Member States adopted the ECOWAS Common External Tariff with the 5-tariff band structure below:

Categories Percentage of Duties Goods Description
0 0% Essential social goods.
1 5% Goods of primary necessity, raw goods and Capital Goods.
2 10% Intermediate goods and inputs
3 20% Final Consumption goods or finished goods
4 35% Specific Goods for Economic Development

The CET has the following accompanying trade defense measures namely

  1. Safeguard measures
  2. Anti-Dumping Measures
  3. Anti-Subsidy and countervailing Measures and
  4. Supplementary protection Measures