ECOWAS regional integration: Stakeholders demand more action from leaders

Accra, Ghana (PANA) - ECOWAS leaders and Member States have been challenged to translate their various decisions and statements on regional integration into concrete actions.

Participants at an interactive workshop, organized by the ECOWAS Commission in Accra, Ghana, on Monday on the sidelines of the ongoing 7th Regional Trade Fair, called for greater political willingness on the part of leaders of Member States and governments to give meaning to their avowed commitment to regional integration.

Some of the participants cited the incessant extortion and molestation of community citizens at various border posts by security agents and the multiplicity of check-points as impediments to the free movement of persons, goods and services, enshrined in the ECOWAS flagship protocol.

They noted that as major stakeholders in the integration agenda, governments and their agencies should ensure the full implementation of the legal instruments and texts they have signed to.

Answering questions raised by the participants after his presentation on the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) and the Common External Tariff (CET), Mr. Felix Kwakye, a Customs expert at the Commission, explained that the Commission and the other Community Institutions had continued to step up efforts on citizen sensitization and advocacy around the integration process.

“Regional integration is a collective responsibility requiring the support and cooperation of all stakeholders, including all the Member States, Governments, civil society organizations, the private sector and the citizens,” he affirmed.

Dr. Sacko Seydou and Mr. Adou Koman, both from the Commission’s Trade Directorate, talked on the many benefits of improved trade to Member States and Community citizens in general.

The ECOWAS officials also shed further light on the citizen rights, responsibilities and their vital contributions to the realization of the ECOWAS goal of regional integration and economic development.

The workshop, under the Trade Fair’s theme: “Regional Integration through Trade”, is part of activities on the margin of the biennial fair, which Ghana is hosting for the second time since its inception in 1995.

Guinea Bissau and Liberia, two of the 12 ECOWAS member countries participating in the two-week fair, which opened on 31 October, 2013, also observed their National Day on Monday.

Benin and Burkina Faso observed their National Day on 1 November, followed by Cape Verde and Cote d’Ivoire on 2 November.

The ECOWAS Day was celebrated on 2 November with a flag hoisting ceremony attended by Vice President of the Commission, Dr. Toga McIntosh, and the Commissioner for Trade, Free Movement and Tourism, Mr. Hamid Ahmed, among others.

The other participating countries will take their turns in marking their National Days at the fair which is also featuring Business to Business talks, trading and exchange of information and ideas by traders, manufacturers, investors and industrialists from within and outside the region.
-0- PANA VAO 5Nov2013

05 november 2013 15:44:11

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