MARCEL De Souza, ECOWAS President, has assured the ECOWAS Task Force on the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme, ETLS, of the Commission’s utmost commitment to achieve economic integration within the region by improving inter-regional trade among member states.
During a briefing Session on May 10, in Abuja, Nigeria, Salou Djibo, chairman of the Task Force former head of State of Niger Republic, handed over a report of the progress and challenges encountered by the ETLS as observed in several Member States already visited by the Task Force.
The Task Force, he said, has visited seven ECOWAS Members States (Burkina Faso, Liberia, Benin, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria) and has observed similar challenges in all States (with a few peculiar issues observed in some specific countries).
One of such challenges is the inadequate awareness of the provisions of the ETLS among stakeholders and community citizens. “It is important to also familiarize the members of the judiciary and legal sectors in the region on the provisions of the ETLS in order to effectively settle disputes which may arise at the national level”, He said.
The Chairman of the ETLS Task Force stated that border crossing in the region also continues to be an impediment to the realization of trade and economic integration in the region. This he said was due to the harassment of commuters and pedestrians at borders.
Similarly, he noted that Corridors in the region have not served optimally in the advancement of the ETLS because of the recurrence of several barriers along the highways and corridors.
The President of the Commission assured the ETLS Task Force of the Commission’s commitment and support in addressing these challenges. This he said will start with the sensitization of stakeholders and community citizens through various media channels and platforms.
The President stated that, ECOWAS should aim to increase its inter-regional trade from its current 12 percent to 50 percent within the next four years. While the task ahead is huge, the President remained positive that the region will achieve its goal of economic integration in the long term.
Furthermore, the President reiterated the Commission’s commitment to the full actualisation of the right to establishment and implementation of the ECOWAS Brown Card which he described as essential and key ingredients for economic integration.
The objective of the ETLS is to promote intra-regional trade in West Africa through the total elimination of all customs duties and taxes of equivalent effect and the removal of non-tariff barriers.
Also in attendance at the meeting were the ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement, Laouali Chaibou and the director of Customs, Salifou Tiemtoré, as well as members of the ETLS Task Force.
— May 17, 2017 @ 17:40 GMT