Mr Edwin Nii Lante Vanderpuye, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, has underscored the need for West African countries to trade among themselves to strengthen their bargaining power on the continent.
He said intra sub-regional trade had a potential of increasing the revenue base of African countries from the current 12 per cent to 28 per cent annually.
Nii Lante Vanderpuye gave the assurance at the launching of the 7th ECOWAS Trade Fair in Takoradi on the theme: “Regional Integration through trade.”
The fair, which would be held from October 24 – November 4, at the International Trade Fair Centre in Accra, would provide a platform for businesses across the country to exhibit their goods and services.
It is under the auspices of the Ministry of Trade and Industry in collaboration with the Ghana Trade Fair Company Limited, with funding from the Export Development and Investment Fund.
The Deputy Minister said trade liberalisation within the ECOWAS sub-region would promote trade and provide a common market that would create wealth and jobs for the youth.
He noted that a common market would enhance the competitiveness of the 15 West African countries and boost their economies.
Nii Lantey Vanderpuye observed that West African countries are lagging behind in terms of development because of existing trade barriers , which hinders the growth of their economies.
“There are individual African countries that have entered into special trade arrangements with…international bodies as well as … European and Asian countries that make trade integration on the continent difficult,” he observed.
In spite of these challenges, he expressed the optimism that the ECOWAS trade fair would create the opportunity for the trade ministers in the sub-region, to work towards economic integration that would facilitate free movement of goods within West Africa.
He said there would be seminars, workshops and colloquiums during the fair where issues preventing trade in the sub-region would be discussed dispassionately in order to find a lasting solution to them.
Nii Lante Vanderpuye noted that government is committed to give stimulus package to businesses to thrive.
He, therefore, entreated entrepreneurs to add value to their products and package them to suit international standards.
He said with the relative economic stability in the country, with an annual growth rate between four and 12 per cent, the government would continue to provide enabling environment for businesses in order to create wealth and employment for the youth.
The Deputy Minister said government would make the Western Region a hub of industrialisation, while creating mechanisms for the clearing of goods at the ports within 12 hours.
He said the government had secured more scanners to fast-track clearing of goods.
He urged the media to provide adequate airtime and space towards promoting the fair in order to attract high patronage from both small and large scale enterprises across the country.