Thursday, April 7, 2011

West Africa: Only one step towards free trade in 30 years

“Its is a disturbing fact that since the creation of ECOWAS over 30  years ago, West Africa as a regional economic community has only moved one step to the level of free trade in our economic integration,” The ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade Alhaji Mohammed B. Daramy said on April 4, 2011.
Commissioner Daramy was speaking at the opening of a five-day joint meeting by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS/UNMOA) and the Committee for the Management of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) in Banjul, The Gambia - from April 4-8, 2011.
The meeting, which is the 10th of its kind is organised by ECOWAS and is meant to give member states the opportunity to review and make conclusions on the common external tariff in the sub-region.
However, Commissioner Daramy said in accordance with Article 3 of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty; the community shall work towards the achievement of integration in the region by establishing a common market through trade liberalisation and the adoption of common external tariffs.
This, he said is an important step in the march towards achieving a common market in West Africa. He also challenges the committee to work harder in ensuring that the primary objective for its establishment is achieved.
In her opening remarks, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment, Naffie Barry noted that the high level meeting would significantly contribute towards the conclusion of the CET process in the region.
She said the project for a common market for the region should not lose its momentum and prominence, and this can only be sustainable within the framework of proper development of the ECOWAS-CET and the proper implementation of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS).
“The future common market has a potential that is not fully exploited and this is only possible with a free movement of goods and services and people within the sub-region,” she said, while stressing that ECOWAS member states should open up their markets irrespective of economic, social and language barriers.
At a time when negotiations between the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) are stalled on Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), Mrs. Barry noted that conclusion on the EPA would greatly depend the finalization of the ECOWAS-CET. She urged the Committee to further expedite the process so as not to miss our regional timelines.
“ECOWAS has made a commitment on the EPA which must seek more engagement with other key economic players particularly the EU, all members states must remain focused on the EPAs so as to synergies their position for common purpose,” she said. Source – The Voice Newspaper

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