Dr Yakubu Zakaria, Director of Programs, Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), has called for more aggressive push and greater commitment by countries in the ECOWAS sub-region towards fusing their economies into a strong, vibrant and resilient market.
This was necessary to tackle the high level of poverty among its peoples. It is estimated that about 70 per cent of the sub-region’s 290 million are poor.
He said it was worrying that, 21 years after signing the treaty for regional integration, the trade areas were yet to be liberalized.
Dr Zakaria was speaking at a media sensitization workshop on the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) organized by ISODEC in Sunyani.
The ETLS is meant to aid the expansion of businesses in the region by allowing exporters to retain 100 per cent of their earning from export.
Added to this is also the expectation that customs duties and other taxes on industrial products from the region as well as all trade barriers would be removed to facilitate intra-Community trade.
Dr Zakaria said it was important to involve non-state actors including civil society and labour unions to assist bring the peoples together.
Mrs Rosaline Obeng-Ofori, a former Director of Cabinet, ECOWAS Commission, said there should be no doubt about the sub-regional body’s potential to turn the economic fortunes of the people.
She, however, noted that it could succeed to better the lives of the population only if there was free trade across the borders of member nations.