The Nigerian government on Monday, 4th November, gave a list of conditions that ECOWAS Member States must adhere to before reopening its border, including that the ECOWAS states must respect the Rule of Origin for imports.
Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, the Minister of Foreign Affair, made this known in Abuja while briefing newsmen following an Inter-Ministerial meeting Preparatory to the Tripartite Anti-Smuggling Committee Meeting of Nigeria, Benin and Niger.
According to the Minister, the conditions include;
- Any import coming from outside an ECOWAS region and imported into an ECOWAS member state must maintain its original packaging. They must be escorted from the port directly to the designated entry point in the Nigerian border, presented to the Nigerian customs with their original packaging. Compromises will not be tolerated.
- Goods produced predominantly in ECOWAS member states must satisfy the ECOWAS rules of origin to avoid any possibility of downplaying. Goods must be majorly produced in ECOWAS countries. If the goods are coming from outside ECOWAS, the value addition must be over 30 per cent for it to be accepted within the framework of the Economic Trade Liberalisation Scheme that ECOWAS countries have to promote trade among them. This is to avoid countries outside member states from exporting their goods into ECOWAS region repackaged, as though they are coming from an ECOWAS region.
- All warehouses along the shared borders of Nigeria must be dismantled.
- Goods being transported must be put in proper recognized packaging. No longer will we have goods of all shapes and sizes going through the borders. To maintain the best practices of those goods, an accepted condition for packaging will be established.
- In regards to free movements of persons, all persons moving through Nigerian borders must present themselves through recognized entry points and must have recognized travel documents (country passport).
In two weeks Nigeria will be hosting a tripartite meeting (Niger, Benin, and Nigeria) to further review the policy. Heads of ministries of foreign affairs, interior, finance, customs, immigration, NIA and other security segments will form the committees of each country represented.
The land borders with neighbouring Niger and Benin were shut on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari on August 20.
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