‘Why Nigeria must leverage on trade liberalisation scheme’
As the nation struggles to wriggle out of the present economic recession, stakeholders have called on the government to create an enabling environment to facilitate the strengthening and proper utilization of the Trade Liberalisation Scheme of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
This, they noted, will help consolidate a common market for the country, boost industrialisation, create employment opportunities, increase economic activities, and ensure the creation of a free trade across borders in West Africa.
Speaking recently in Lagos at a workshop jointly organized by Deliotte West Africa and Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), the Director General, NACCIMA, Mr. Emmanuel Cobham, noted that the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS), when effectively implemented would reduce poverty and enhance development in the country.
He said: “When effectively implemented, the ETLS scheme will improve trade flows among countries, and also, their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will perform better with enhance economic opportunities, corresponding increase in income, jobs creation, with attendance reduction on poverty and enhanced development.
In view of recent development in the global economy, it is important for us to embrace intra regional trade which is currently low and largely informal but with considerable potentials for increase, taking into consideration, the population and abundant human and natural resources available.”
Cobhams further stated that there was the need to sensitise Nigerians about the scheme and related protocols in order to facilitate informed monitoring and oversight as part of their constitutional responsibility.
“This is why NACCIMA went into partnership with Akintola Williams Deliotte in educating exporters and manufacturers on the importance of the scheme, and also to address the issues and challenges that have so far plagued the implementation of the scheme”, he added.
According to the Program Officer, Free Trade Area, Customs Directorate of the ECOWAS Commission, Aissata Koffi the ETLS serves as the main operational instrument for the promotion of Free Trade Area in the West African sub-region, and is in tandem with the objectives for which ECOWAS was established.
“The ETLS is the main ECOWAS operational tool for promoting the West African region as a Free Trade Area and the Commission’s first step towards the realisation of the objective of the community which is the establishment of a common market through the liberalisation of trade by the abolition, among Member States, of customs duties levied on imports and exports, and the abolition among Member States, of non-tariff barriers”
Chief Operating Officer, Deloitte West Africa, who was represented by a Senior Partner and member of the board of Deliotte, Mr.Femi Abegunde reiterated that the workshop was necessary considering the fact that a good knowledge of the scheme would provide a stepping stone for domestic products to raise their heads towards the global market.
According to him, the scheme has brought improved market access for locally produced goods, increased productivity in the private sector and as well protects West African economic operators from undue competition.
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