The ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) is the tool that aims at the operationalization of the Free Trade Area (FTA) through the elimination of customs duties and taxes with equivalent effect on the importation of products recognized as originating in ECOWAS Member States.
However, its implementation by all Member States has not been effective. This situation is due, among other things, to (i) the lack of training of members of the National Approval Committees (NACs) on ETLS approval procedures to provide the necessary assistance to enterprises for their approval, (ii) the lack of information exchange and communication between the actors concerned, and (iii) the absence of an SLE database where the list of approved enterprises and products is regularly updated and available for the purpose of verifying the authenticity of certificates of origin.
Aware of these challenges and determined to ensure the proper implementation of the ETLS, the ECOWAS Commission has restructured the ETLS website with the assistance of the Information Technology Services Directorate (ITSD), with significant innovations.
Subsequently, the ECOWAS Commission will be organizing, on the one hand, a series of virtual training sessions for the National Approval Committees (NACs) of all Member States on the use of the ETLS website and on ETLS Approval procedures for those who encounter difficulties, and, on the other hand, virtual sensitization of the private sector in all Member States on the use of the ETLS website.
The above-mentioned activities will be organized virtually from October to November 2020. This mode of training was deemed effective due to the Covid-19 situation inhibiting the physical convergence and participation of all those directly involved with the ETLS.