PMG-MAN, WAPMA review tariff measures under new CET regime
Seek implementation of trade defence rules
Worried by the challenges posed by the new tariff measures under the new Common External Tariff (CET) regime, manufacturers of Pharmaceutical products across West Africa have sought the cooperation of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member countries in addressing the gaps in tariffs in order to protect local industrial firms.
According to the stakeholders, tariff measures under the CET regime for pharmaceutical sector need to be reviewed in order to protect local industrial firms as well as encourage local production.
Under the new CET regime, finished imported pharmaceutical products are placed under zero tariffs while essential raw and packaging materials required by the industry for local medicine production attract about five per cent tariff.
With 34 products identified under the 85 products that attract zero tariff under the CET, the stakeholders sought the implementation of trade defense rules by member countries, where necessary, in order to protect local industries from heavy dumping from developed countries taking advantage of the new rules.
The experts, at a special forum tagged: “ECOWAS Common External Tariff and The Pharmaceutical Sector in West Africa” held in Lagos, recently, said until ECOWAS finds a lasting and concrete resolutions to the issue, the sector would remain at the mercy of foreign products.
President of West African Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (WAPMA), Bunmi Olaopa said: “There is need to protect local drug manufacturers in the region. We see drug as security. If we allow foreign manufacturers to keep dumping their products on us, we will never be in the position to be self sufficient. The CET as it is being presently executed is detrimental to the local manufacturers.”
He stressed that the local manufactures were already disadvantaged by poor infrastructure, thus making most of the products expensive to produce.
“If we have to compete with imported products, it put us at further disadvantage with zero duty. That means that we will never develop. It means that the factories would have to close down and that makes importation attractive”, Olaopa added.
According to him the sector has invested so much in setting up factories of international standards and keeping the factories will become difficult as well as recouping investments.
Chairman of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group-Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN) and keynote speaker at the event, Okey Akpa said: “Major issue with the implementation of the CET on medicines implies that duty tariff on imported pharmaceutical raw materials is 5 per cent which is higher than the duty on finished pharmaceutical products at zero per cent. Blanket zero-rating and high tariffication cannot address the challenges”.
Akpa, who stressed that the region needed to concentrate on working to improve local industries to meet up with healthcare demands, lessen the gap of health burden and provide job opportunities for its 340 million estimated populations, said the sector stands a better chance to improve access to medicines, generate revenue and help to reduce poverty.
He stated that local manufacturers have contributed positively to the production of antibacterial products, artemisinin combination therapies for malaria as well as anti-retroviral medicines, adding that they must be encouraged in these attempts.
Akpa urged ECOWAS countries to address the issues of regulation, affordable capital, access to market, technical capacity, managerial capabilities, access to technology, development of human resources and conducive policy environment.
“We have always been advocating policies that protect the pharmaceutical sector. We therefore support the review of the tariff and other trade policies to encourage local manufacture of medicines in ECOWAS.
“The pharmaceutical industry in West Africa has enormous potential and the industry is positively impacting on the access to essential medicines in the region hence deserves support” Akpa said.