• Saturday, April 20, 2024
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ECOWAS headlines common currency for 40% inter state trade in West Africa

ECOWAS headlines common currency for 40% inter state trade in West Africa
Having observed the negative economic impacts the absence of common currency creates in the actualisation of thriving commercial activities within West Africa, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has intensified efforts on the establishment of single currency, named ‘ECO,’ meant to ease inter-state trade and transaction.
The proposed establishment of the common currency, which is headlined under the ECOWAS Protocol 4, seeks to remove economic encumbrances that militate against regional integration and diverse tariff barriers that impede free movement of people, goods and services within the 15 member states, thereby, improving trade and transaction volumes gradually. 
BusinessDay reports that series of policy meetings have been held on ECO, which is being designed and developed by the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI) based in Ghana, either by the ECOWAS Presidential Task Force or the ECOWAS Parliament on the actualisation of single currency by 2020 within the West African sub region, with a view to increasing the trade volume by 40 percent in 2030. 
Consequently, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) is mobilising ECOWAS member states’ business associations such as Agriculture Bénin Développement (ABD), Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), among others, to drive economic strategies leading to the actualisation of both single currency and 40 percent inter-state trade volume by 2030.
Speaking in Abeokuta at the weekend, Bruno Gnidehoue, leader, Trade Mission Delegation from the UNIDO/Republic of Benin, said the arrangement was to improve on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of all ECOWAS members and increase the volume of trade within the economic region, saying the choice of Nigeria as first point of call was borne out of her economic status as the largest economy in West Africa and Africa as a whole.
Gnidehoue noted that the West African comparative advantages lay on extractive industry with a bias on agriculture and solid minerals as huge foreign exchange earners, which could fast track series of robust economic policies conceived and formulated by ECOWAS.
Gnidehoue explained that the establishment of single currency and 40 percent inter-state trade volume in the West African economic bloc would make the region completely favourably with the European Union (EU) in terms of trade as well as socioeconomic growth and development. 
Also speaking on behalf of NACCIMA, Wasiu Olaleye, president, Abeokuta Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ABEOCCIMA), said, “It is a welcome development which we have been clamouring for when ECOWAS was formed in 1975 to foster relationship and encourage trade within the community of West Africa.
“It is disheartening that as at today, the intra trade within the community is just 12% and we are looking forward to growing it to 40% by 2030 and you know without this kind of trade mission, we can achieve that. So, we have to make sure that we relate, we visit each other and each of the states promotes goods or produce where they have comparative advantage and core competence, this will facilitate trade within the community to the fast East or Europe.
“Yes, the issue of common currency is under Protocol 4, the Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS are seriously working on this, they also involve us at NACCIMA level in order to achieve this as fast as possible, because without that we may not go too far. They have named it ECO Currency and we are willing to achieve this as fast as possible as well.”
Responding on behalf of government, Jonathan Onajobi, permanent secretary, Ogun State Ministry of Commerce and Industry, said Ogun being the Gateway State to West African region, would play a major role in actualising the 40 percent trade volume target within the West African sub-region, explaining that the state had earlier envisaged such an economic development, hence, it created enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
According to Onajobi, Ogun being one of the leading states in terms of ease of starting and doing business as ranked by the World Bank, would also increase its GDP in order to contribute meaningfully to the West African regional economic arrangement.