By Abdul Rahman Suagibu –
NEW AFRICA DAILY NEWS, Freetown, Sierra Leone- The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has associated with Trade Facilitation West Africa (TFWA), EU, USAID, Netherlands, GIZ and WBG to support regional integration agenda and the implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TTA), with the view to assure non-tariff barriers, rules of origin, standards and the business environment within the member states.
Tei Konzi – Commissioner for trade, Customs and Free Movement, ECOWAS said, that he would continue to give support to regional integration to remove obstacles to cross – border trade, insisting that; the process required careful planning, sequencing and investment in both hard and soft infrastructure at the country and the regional care for trade facilitation initiatives to be sustainable and impactful.
“Trade plays an important role in creating employment and generating wealth. As a result, trade facilitation has been at the heart of our regional integration process, with the protocols and decisions on the free movement of persons and goods at the cornerstone of our economic integration”.
“Despite this focus, the share of intra – regional trade within ECOWAS has averaged 11%. Over the last five years, and share of world trade remains negligible.
Contributing factors to low volumes of trade include poor trade – related infrastructure and weak production capacity, however they also include burdensome procedures and regulations”
The Minister – Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment (FMITI) represented by Aliyu Abubakar said that the implementation of these initiatives galvanized with the commitments made under the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) will provide a strong basis for trade expansion in region, describing the meeting as an avenue for exchange of ideas and to see how to address the obstacles of cross-border trade within the region.
“Our commitment internationally is to see how we can trade away ourselves as ECOWAS nation, the possibility of crisis and the issue of xenophobia will be minimized, trade is capable of creating wealth, reducing unemployment and generating employment and also cements relations among ourselves”.
One of the facilitators who are the principal program officer of ECOWAS – Kolamole Sofola said ECOWAS has laid out initiatives to boost intra – regional trade through effective and free movement of goods within the region.
Adding that, the two day forum in Abuja was to update, share and ultimately strengthen the national trade facilitation committees, while engaging in the process of establishing the Regional Trade Facilitation Committee (RTFC) which is aimed at coordinating the implementation of the WTO, TFA at the regional level.
For New Africa Daily News Abdul Rahman Suagibu Reports, Africa Correspondent