Ghana’s export to the West African sub-region under the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS), has seen a steady increase over the years.
“The ETLS has offered Ghanaian export manufacturers the opportunity to expand their market share in the Community. For example, the number of ECOWAS certificates of origin issued increased from a little over 3,000 in 2012 to 4,286 in 2013 and 5,951 in 2014″, Mr Seth Terpker, Minister of Finance and said when he presented the 2016 Budget Statement and Economic Policy to Parliament in Accra on Friday.
He said trade between Ghana and Nigeria had improved over the period and that export to Nigeria stood at GH¢365.6 million as at June 2015, compared to an estimated GH¢210.7 million as at June 2014.
He said the scheme had also introduced competition among community industries leading to a reasonable product price to the consumer.
Mr Terkper said in spite of the regional backing and benefits that accrued to member countries, its objectives to a large extent had not been achieved.
“ Both tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade between member states still persist. While some progress has been made in reducing tariffs, they have not been fully eliminated. Progress towards removing non-tariff barriers such as seasonal import and export bans has been slow, “ he added.
He said the failure to implement the instruments on the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) was affecting economic growth in the sub-region and called for redoubled efforts to remove bottlenecks impeding the implementation of ECOWAS protocols.
The Finance Minister announced that the screening and updating of the current database of Ghanaian companies with ETLS status was on-going and was expected to be completed by 30th June, 2016.
“Since the beginning of 2015, about 18 Ghanaian industrial companies have been given approval to benefit from the scheme. Ghana will continue to vigorously pursue the implementation of the ETLS,” he stated.
On the implementation of the ECOWAS Community Development Programme (CDP), he noted the Authority of Heads of State and Government at its 45th Session in July 2014 in Accra enjoined the ECOWAS Commission to take all necessary measures to mobilize resources for financing the Programme.
In that regard, he said, the Commission initiated preparatory work for the organisation of a high level conference and a round table for the financing of the CDP.
Mr Terpker announced that Ghana had submitted four priority projects to the ECOWAS Commission to be included in the CDP for consideration.
The projects are in the area of the creation of sustainable tsetse-free areas as part of six countries in support of the eradication of tsetse and Trypanosomiasis in sub-Saharan Africa; raising the level of science, technology and innovation in industry, as well as the establishment of science and technology parks; the rehabilitation of western railway line; and the development of inland valleys for rice production.
He noted that Ghana was actively cooperating with the ECOWAS Commission and its institutions to expedite action on the implementation of the CDP.
On the revised roadmap for the Second Single Monetary Zone, he said the Authority of Heads of State and Government in June 2007 directed the Commission to re-examine the monetary integration process and expedite the process of creating a common currency for ECOWAS.
He said the implementation of that directive led to the development of the roadmap for the ECOWAS Single Currency Programme by the ECOWAS Convergence Council on 25th May 2009.
“The roadmap had two major milestones: West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) in 2015, and a Common Currency in 2020 for the ECOWAS single currency,” he explained.
Mr Terkper said, however, that a one-track approach had been adopted for the achievement of a single currency by 2020, and that a related costed roadmap had been developed. “One key component of the roadmap is the establishment of an ECOWAS Monetary Institute (EMI) by January 2018”, he added.
He said the ETLS sought to provide impetus to the process of economic integration and development in the West African sub-region, and that it was expected to provide easier access to markets in other ECOWAS countries and thereby encourage local manufacturing outfits to compete favourably with cheap imported products.
The scheme is also expected to encourage entrepreneurial development through the provision of preferential treatment in specific areas among member states, he indicated. GNA