The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is expected to start the common external tariff on Jan. 1, 2015, the Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama announced here on Thursday.
Mahama, who is also chairman of the sub-regional body, said this when he opened the 45th Ordinary Session of ECOWAS.
The ECOWAS heads of state and government decided in 2006 to establish the common system composed of four tariff bands or rates of customs duty, which is expected to pave way for the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union (EU).
President Mahama also urged member-states to work hard at eliminating all bottlenecks hindering business in the region.
"Some of our businessmen and women complain that, in addition to paying all the relevant duties and levies, they are still confronted with situations and hindrances that often make it prohibitive for them to do business within the sub-region," he pointed out.
Additionally, Mahama said the lengthy inspection times and the costly delays as well as the request by member-states for traders to pay formal and informal fees, were some of the challenges that made products from the region uncompetitive.
The summit hosts 15 heads of state as well as delegations from neighboring countries, and representatives from the UN and the AU.