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Published On: Wed, Feb 26th, 2014

Stakeholders want ECOWAS to tackle trade barriers in West Africa

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ECOWASFrom Ayodele Samuel and Akilani Abdullah, Lagos

Stakeholders across the West Africa region have appealed to Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS to remove trade barriers and enhancing trade flows across the borders in Africa.

Stakeholders who spoke in Lagos yesterday at the third edition of the annual Borderless Alliance conference with the theme ‘Enabling Growth’ lamented that intra-regional trade has recorded a very low percentage for Africa and as a result of this, it poses a great hindrance in developing Africa.

They said study had shown that unlike the other the other developed regions of the world, Africa has continued to underperform its growth and development potentials, partly due to its low trade volumes,amongst other factors.

The Managing Director, Nigeria Export Import Bank, Mr Roberts Orya said, “Our intra-regional trade is low and has stagnated at about 10% and 12% respectively for Africa and ECOWAS, in sharp contrast to the European Union’s 50%, 40% in the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) and 25% among the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“This low trade performance bears some correlation with the African development challenges and therefore deserves concerted efforts of the public and private sectors to remove some of the impediments to free trade and regional integration, towards creating a freer, bigger market and attracting investment capital.”

While stressing on the need to fastrack work on the challenges faced by the ECOWAS region, Orya made it known that there can be no time better than now to tackle the menace in the trading sector as this is he right time the professionals and policy makers can make use to exchange quality views and ideas in attaining the growth height we have so hope for.

“Let me observe that this conference is holding at a time when Nigeria is developing a new trade policy with strong emphasis to fostering domestic and regional trade development in line with the

implementation strategies under the current economic transformation programme.

The ongoing economic reforms and deregulation of key sectors have also engendered a more liberalized and conducive investment climate, with friendly incentives, under a one-stop investment processing approval regime, for increased domestic and foreign direct investments. It is therefore my hope that many of you will avail yourselves of the networking and the business to business opportunity that this forum also offers.

Also speaking , President, Borderless Alliance, Mr Ziad Hamoui said that the company is well positioned to become the leading advocacy platform in west Africa, by promoting economic integration and removing the barriers to trade and transport.

Hamoui said, “Borderless alliance is a private sector led company, evidence based and action-driven by providing a common platform for dialogue between the various stakeholders, it aims to provide sustainable solutions that leave a positive impact on the business environment in West Africa”.

In his own remarks, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, (LCCI), Christain Uwane called for synergy among ECOWAS states.

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