Trade liberalisation scheme critical to West Africa’s economy
Former Deputy Executive Secretary, ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Sola Afolabi, has described the trade liberalisation as critical to boosting the economy of member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Afolabi, who delivered a paper titled: “The Trajectory of Intra-West Africa Trade and Travel 1975 till date,” at the inaugural lecture to mark the 10th anniversary of Inside Watch Africa (IWA) magazine in Lagos, said Nigeria is the greatest beneficiary of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS).
He said ETLS and Free Movement Protocol are the most promising tools for enhancing regional integration in West Africa.
“The success of the schemes today has made Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to stand out among the Regional Economic Communities in Africa. The entry of Morocco into ECOWAS and the enforcement of AfCTA should be prudently managed to achieve the desired objectives. With greater sensitisation and efficient application, the schemes can continue to contribute to the enhancement of the welfare of ECOWAS citizens.”
The ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme, he said, was established in 1979, to encourage entrepreneurship development in the region, and increase intra-regional trade and boost economic activity.
Afolabi blamed low awareness for why the scheme has not been beneficial to many corporate in the region, adding that intending users do not understand the technicalities of the scheme, which he blamed on operational deficiencies in the national approval.
This, he stated, resulted in sometimes undue delays in granting Certificates of Origin (CoO).
Highlighting some of the problems facing the scheme, he said, “Non-mutual recognition of CoO resulting from distrust in the national approval processed and language barriers creating problems for users making applications. Parallel FTA scheme in ECOWAS and UEMOA resulting in selective application at borders, re-export of goods from third world countries further stressing trust in CoOs. Are some of the problems.”
However, he said bribes and delays, especially at land borders and requirement for yellow card is hampering the ECOWAS free movement protocol.
Publisher, Inside Watch Africa IWA, Oluwaseyi Adegoke Adeyemo, recalled that the magazine started 10 years ago with the main objective of reconnecting Africans back to the very essence of Africa, by deliberately implanting the sense of self-worth in the average African.
“As expected, in the past 10 years, we have encountered lots of obstacles on our way, but thankfully, we have also experienced great times and gathered a lot of knowledge along the way. We are fully aware that as a media house, we are to inform, educate, criticise objectively, and stimulate discussions; and we are resolved to doing that to the best of our abilities,” he stated.