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Common external tariff brings opportunities – AGI

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The Association of Ghanaian Industries (AGI) says the introduction of the common external tariff brings opportunities, as it makes tariff regime across West Africa easier to manage.

Mr Seth Twum-Akwaboah, Chief Executive Officer, AGI explained that otherwise if there were to be a different duty system, member states within the ECOWAS region would always have to battle in understanding each of the tariff regimes, which makes it difficult to do business.

Mr Twum-Akwaboah made these remarks in an interview with the Ghana News Agency at a conference on extension of business activities to the ECOWAS region.

It was organised by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry France Ghana (CCIFG) in collaboration with the French Embassy in Accra.

It was facilitated by the AGI, Borderless Alliance and GFA Consulting Limited, who led an interactive discussion that disserted the opportunities available in the sub-regional market.

The ECOWAS Conference was organised in the frame work of activities lined up in celebration of the France and Ghana 1957-2017 which marks 60 years of bilateral relations between the two Republics.

Mr Twum-Akwaboah noted that with regards to the ECOWAS trade protocols, there have been a number of signed agreements aside the unsigned specific agreements, and so there would be a need to tackle those specific ones and how it had affected the market.

He said the challenges were not the signing of agreements, but the implementation of what all member states had agreed to do on the ground.

He  cited an instance where there was supposed to be a duty free/ quota free of export of goods within ECOWAS, yet another country said it had banned the importation of goods from another country.

Mrs Laurence Elong-Mbassi, a representative of the GFA Consulting Limited also told the GNA that the challenges within ECOWAS region was the fact that, there were several tax legislations, which were  major problems to companies that were not used to those tax systems.

She said the solution was clearly a ‘political will’ from member states to cooperate on the tax aspect, adding that “so far it has been difficult to put several countries together to have a uniform tax regime.

Mrs Elong-Mbassi said with regards to work permit, was an issue which was progressively being solved, however, the challenges had got to do with instances where companies want to send personnel to other countries.

“We need that political will to make the ECOWAS community a reality; by really enforcing members to sign the protocols and as well applying what is provided by the treaty,” she added.

In his welcome Address Mr Francois Pujolas, the French Ambassador to Ghana commended CCIFG for its action in support of the French business community, and the economic exchanges and partnerships between Ghana and France.

He emphasised on the key role of the private sector to face challenges, recalling that the best way to move forward for West Africa is the regional integration.

Mr Gauthier Pourcelle, Vice President of the CCIFG, reaffirmed that ECOWAS represented a unique opportunity for companies to expand their market, hence the conference aimed at giving an insight to participants on the ECOWAS market, the opportunities that represented the market and its challenges.

He said the conference, which contributed to the promotion of the sub- regional goal, also showcased CCIFG’s effort to promote business development outside Ghana.

Source: GNA

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