‘ECOWAS must trade more with itself’ – Expert

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have been advised to take advantage of the domestic market opportunities to trade more with itself.

This, according Mr Gilbert Nii-Okai Addy, an International Trade Expert was one of the surest ways to reduce the vulnerability that they faced in the world competitive market.

He also called on Governments to create the needed enabling environment and be committed to tackling the numerous infrastructural and institutional challenges that made it difficult to trade in the Sub-Region.

Mr Okai Addy said this when he made a presentation on “Exporting to ECOWAS and EU markets” at a capacity building workshop for producers ,exporters and potential exporters in the Central Region.

The workshop,organised by the Ministry of Trade and Industry formed part of the Trade Related Assistance and Quality Enabling (TRAQE) Programme which sought to enhance export of Ghanaian products to Regional and Global markets.

It was among other things to create the awareness training to inform the main Business Support Organisations as well as the private sector on how to meet EU trade requirements in Ghana.

It also comprised Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) accompanying measures, designed to fully exploit European Union and West Africa market access for Ghanaian exports, leverage and utilise the EPA to attract investment.
He called on member states to strengthen their communication channels especially with relation to the language barrier.

Mr Okai Addy said ECOWAS had a huge market but its exporters found it unattractive and a disincentive to trade among themselves in horticultural produce due to delays in clearing goods.

He said in a situation where unemployment was a major challenge for many African countries, it was imperative to reduce imports and do more exports because importing products from other countries created sustained jobs in those countries.

He encouraged Ghanaian exporters to form partnerships so as to improve the competitiveness of local industries and the country as business destination to be able to export more.

Mrs Mariella Sandini, Team leader and Technical Assistance at TRAQE said the EPA would not only offer duty-free access to the EU market but also facilitate ECOWAS region to conduct business and deepen collaboration with their counterparts in giant economies like China.

She urged exporters to take issues of safety standards seriously and ensure that they conformed to the European quality standards so that they could penetrate the EU market.

She said the EU had the world’s largest single market and by the EPA, offered ECOWAS countries a huge consumer demand, but it was often neglected with the excuse that they did not know how to export to the EU.

She said there were available information on how to export to the EU and therefore advised local exporters to collaborate with their counterparts in the EU countries to know their market dynamics.

She also advised exporters to work directly with their producers and make them understand the issues of standards.

The TRAQE Programme is aimed at addressing the challenge of improving the capacity of Ghana for trade policy analysis, formulation and implementation, as well as elements of the national quality infrastructure, and awareness of private sector in order to cope with requirements posed by the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) agreements in export trade. GNA

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