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Nigeria accounts for 70% of products under ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme – FG

The Federal Government has said that Nigeria alone accounts for 60-70 percent of products under the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS), stressing that Nigeria has over 2,400 companies, with over 6,900 products under the scheme.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada, disclosed this on Thursday while declaring open a Consultative Workshop of ECOWAS Post 2020 Vision and how the new Vision 2050 will reflect the interests of Nigeria. The goal of the workshop, he noted, was to articulate the views of various stakeholders on the impact of ECOWAS Vision 2020, as well as the expectations of the people of Nigeria, with regards to the formulations of the ECOWAS Vision 2050 document.

“Under the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS), the region has eliminated over 95 percent of trade barriers along the border of member states. Presently, Nigeria has over 2,400 companies, with over 6,900 products under the scheme. Nigeria alone accounts for 60-70 percent of the products under ETLS,” Dada said.

He added that as the December 2020 deadline of the ECOWAS Vision 2020 approaches, and response to the many persistent challenges facing the region becomes imperative, the ECOWAS has established a road map to come up with a post 2020 Vision for the sub region.

He pointed that among the achievements recorded by the region in that past years include; Positive developments in several West African Countries including continued efforts being made to carry out political, constitutional and security sector reforms to improve good governance and democracy.

Dada noted that the region facilitated peaceful and democratic change of governments in The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra-Leone, Togo, Senegal and Mali (before Mali’s current crisis).

Concerning border management and free movement of persons, goods and services, the Minister explained that the region, in collaboration with the development partners, has successfully established the following Joint Border Posts to facilitate intra-regional economic trade and enhance seamless border formalities.

The Border Posts include: Seme-Krake Joint Border Post between Nigeria and Benin, Hillacondju/sanveecondgi between Togo and Benin, Noepe-Akanu between Togo and Ghana, Noe-Elubo between Ghana and Cote Ivoire, Kouremale between Guinea and Mali as wells as Malaville between Benin and Niger.

Also speaking during the workshop, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Olusola Idowu, who was represented by David Taiwo Adeosun, Director Macroeconomic Analysis Department of the Ministry of Finance budget and National Planning said the consultations are to ensure that the post-2020 Vision reflects the needs and aspirations of the citizenry.

“It will also bring together a Focus Group Discussion (FGDs) forum to gather their views, experience, opinions and share ideas on the three fundamental areas, namely; Achievement of ECOWAS during the implementation of the ECOWAS Vision 2020; New development challenges in the region and the need to be addressed in the post 2020 Vision Blueprint; and Long Term aspirations for the region defining the “West Africa we want to see” in the next 25 years to 50 years,” he said.

He said the post 2020 vision envisaged more regional integration and development where “infrastructure will not be a problem, where trade among member countries would be carried out with much ease, where citizens can move from one country to another and they will feel at home, and where poverty will be a thing of the past and where standard of living will improve.”

Contributing, Halima Ahmed, Commissioner for Finance, ECOWAS Commission, told reporters in an interview that the workshop is to create an avenue to enhance regional trade by increasing the percentage of inter community trade among member countries.

On the political crisis ravaging the region, the commissioner, who represented the Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission, Findar Koroma, said the region has put lot energy and resources quelling crisis because without peace there cannot have development. She added that the regional bloc is trying to address that by laying emphasis on security, political stability and good governance so that trade issues will be properly attended to.

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