Ghana Minister wants artificial trade barriers removed in ECOWAS region

BorderThe Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Nii Lante Vanderpuye, has called on ECOWAS member-states to muster the political will to remove artificial trade barriers, tariffs and road blocks on their international routes to promote the free movement of persons and goods.

The deputy minister said the ECOWAS market, estimated at about 350 million, with Nigeria alone expected to grow its population to 300 million by 2050, was important to all ECOWAS states and all must work assiduously to keep it open and deepened.

Nii Lante Vanderpuye said this when he officially brought the curtains down on the 7th ECOWAS Trade Fair held at the Accra International Trade Fair from October 31 to November 11, 2013.

Hosted by Ghana and organised by the ECOWAS Commission as a tool to promote regional integration, the 12-day event was on the theme: “Regional Integration through Trade”. It attracted over 690 exhibitors from 12 countries, out of the 706 exhibitors expected from the 15 ECOWAS member states.

“The ECOWAS market is important to all member-states and we must keep it open and further develop it. The roadblocks, unauthorized tariffs and so on which impede the free movement of goods and persons across borders should be removed,” the minister urged.

He lamented that even advanced countries which were far ahead of West African countries still kept open borders and made movements free, much more a region which needed to grow and reduce poverty through trade.

Statistics indicate that Africa contributes about 11 per cent of world trade and does around 12 per cent of trade within itself. However, should Africa increase trading among itself, it could contribute about 26 per cent of world trade, and that means enormous opportunities for growth, development and poverty reduction.

While commending the organisers for putting up a successful trade fair where exhibitors displayed their wares and networked, he called on the ECOWAS Commission to ensure that all member states rallied round the ECOWAS Trade Fair and not organise own country fairs to run currently with the ECOWAS edition.

A Customs Specialist at the ECOWAS Commission, Mr Felix Kwakye, who spoke on behalf of the ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Industry, Mines, Customs and Free Movement, Mr Hamid Ahmed, said the fair was in line with trade development, which was one of the pillars of the integration agenda contained in the revised ECOWAS Treaty.

He expressed the hope that the networking opportunities created at the fair, which brought together manufacturers, investors, traders and services providers among others would be translated into real business linkages and business deal to deepen the economic development of the region.

Mr Kwakye said although the fair largely lived up to the billing, organisers had taken cognisance of complaints of the restrictions to free movement of goods and persons along the West Coast and would work with the individual countries and at the highest levels to resolve them.

He said the ECOWAS Commission in collaboration with the Customs and Immigration services of member countries would liaise to resolve the challenges.

The fair brought together exhibitors of textiles products, garments, footwear, agro-foods, machinery, pharmaceuticals and other health products who displayed their wares.

Each participating country was given a day to market themselves, products and companies to investors and the rest of the region as a form of harnessing the inter-linkages within the region.

Source: Daily Graphic

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