Saturday, November 6, 2010

ECOWAS Cross-border Trade and Investment Meeting opens in Banjul

Banjul, The Gambia (TNBES) A three-day ECOWAS Cross-Boarder Trade and Investment Meeting kicks-off in Banjul on Monday 3rd May 2010, organised by the Federation of West Africa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI).

The meeting is hosted by The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry and is aimed at fostering more trade ties and investment within the region.

Speaking on the occasion, the Vice President of The Gambia Mrs. Isatou Njie-Saidy described the event as timely, citing that the world has continued to grapple the effects of the economic downturn and as others unite in their search for solutions, the region must not stand aside merely watching.

The Vice President told the stakeholders at the conference on Intra-ECOWAS Cross-Border Trade and Investment that they must become a part and parcel of the global order where countries unite their effort at promoting growth and development to help their people.

“It is rather unfortunate that despite its vast resources, and a market of more than
206 million people, the ECOWAS
Sub-region has little to show in terms of its contribution to intra-regional trade,
talk lees to contributions in international trade,” she lamented.

According to her, there is no doubt that if the respective economies are to get their people out of the poverty trap, they need to rely more on themselves, by boosting
their productive sectors and increasing trade among themselves.

She also noted that the sub-region cannot continue to be mere receptacles of products coming from other parts of the world, arguing that if we continue to be, we would, in
effect, be a source for making the exporting countries richer and ourselves
poorer by day.

She said the challenge is on them to work harder and most importantly, harness their productive potentials and become a strong trade and economic bloc. “This way we will claim
our rightful place on the international market place.”

“Since its establishment, the ECOWAS Commission has come up with the necessary policy instruments to make economic integration a reality. But unfortunately, the
implementation of those policy instruments on the ground has always been
sluggish,” she stressed.

According to her ECOWAS Heads of States want to see every impediment to the free movements of goods and services lifted, arguing that the benefits of an ECOWAs free-trade
area far outweighs the compartmentalized and disjointed markets within which
our economies are currently functioning.

However, Mr. W.A. Krofah, President of the Federation of West Africa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI) argued that the
Federation has not set up a platform
where accusations and counter accusations will be
traded but rather the conference should be seen as marking
the beginning of a process of continuous dialogue between the federation, the economic operators and government agents who are at the frontline of our borders.

He added the conference should serve as a forum for exchange of ideas and sharing of
experiences between the private sector
and public officials noting that both
parties should at the end of the
conference emerge determined to find
solutions to the myriad obstacles to intra-ECOWAS trade.

He pointed out that the conference will tackle the challenges to intra-ECOWAS trade from the perspective of ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) and Rules of Origin,
Customs, Transport and Communications, Payment Systems and Free Movement of
Persons, Right of Residence and Establishment.

According to him, the global trend towards trade liberalisation unleashed when the world trade organisation (WTO) Agreement was signed has increased the importance of
economic integration and it has galvanized the leaders of the region to
intensify their efforts towards economic integration.

He also outlined that the role of Customs is of crucial importance in determining which goods qualify under the Rules of Origin. Vol:2

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