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Uzodinma spearheading calls on FG to suspend ECOWAS’ trade scheme

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Hardliner and Senator representing Orlu Senatorial Zone of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma has moved a motion on floor of the Red Chamber urging the Federal government to suspend forthwith the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) trade liberalisation scheme and Common External Tariffs (CET).

Adopting a motion sponsored by Senator Hope Uzodinma, titled, “The Abuse of Customs Tariff and Indiscriminate Issuance of Fiscal Policies and the negative impact on the national economy”, the upper chamber urged government to review the process of enacting the tariff to identify all abuses and revenue leakages.

He noted that the fall out of the formation of ECOWAS was the ratification of CET and ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) in year 2000.

Senator Uzodinma’s argument seemed to have been based on the fact that ECOWAS integration package in the place should not have been signed, as “Nigeria was not and is still not in the same economic level with other West African countries.

He said that Nigeria had made a huge industrial advancement and was ready for a giant leap into the league of developed countries.

In his submission, “These protocols on Economic integration of the West African sub region were predicated on free movement of goods and services as well as strategic economic convergence criteria of member nations”.

The Senator was of the view that the country’s economy, especially the manufacturing sector was worsened by the protocols, which further drove the real sector into doldrums and consequently forced most manufacturing firms to neighbouring countries.

Uzodinma said the ratification of the two protocols were not done in accordance with section 12 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

Experts say if the motion scales through, there may be series of structural changes on the way and manner Nigeria does business within the sub region.

Some experts who reviewed the development said Senator Uzodinma’s motion would have made great impacts if Nigeria has all it takes to encourage seamless business operations.

Ernest Aigbavbiere, an economist said “ECOWAS trade protocol agreement would have been the best thing happening in the region if Nigeria claims of being the most developed among the communities can create the best environment for industrial production.

“That would mean access to large market. Companies are relocating to other west African countries not because of pull factors but because of push factors.

“It is not even about wages -loss of labour due to closed factories -the business of the Senate is on custom tariff, or how to jettison the trade agreements and sets higher tariffs for goods coming in from ECOWAS states. The government should fix the problems facing the manufacturing sector and indeed the economy and stop the blame games. This government needs greater vision for the nation not an immediate gratification.

Aigbavbiere argued that “It is because the nation failed to provide the necessary enabling environment for the manufacturing sector: Stable electricity, security, stable exchange rate -even if it is 1:1000, reduced costs of industrial fuel including aviation fuel, reduced duplication of agencies and charges. It is sad that at the Senate level of government, they just move motions”.


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