We need to increase trading amongst ourselves - Ambassador Kpodo
5/3/2012 8:30:49 AM -
Accra, May 02, GNA - Ambassador Chris Kpodo, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has appealed for the need to reverse the trend of minimal trade amongst member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
He said Intra-African trade has consistently remained low with member countries doing an average of 10 to 12 per cent of external trade amongst themselves at the regional level.
Speaking at the launch of the Regional Integration Month celebration, Ambassador Kpodo said more than 80 per cent of African exports were still destined for markets outside the continent with more that 50 percent going to the European Union and the United States of America.
'Considering the lack of significant trade relations between African countries in comparison to the situation in other regions, the difference serves as a wake-up call on Africa to take up actions to increase the current levels of intra-African trade,' he noted.
He suggested that larger markets must be developed and more jobs must be created for the citizens so as to reduce dependency of African countries on international stocks, as it is the case in the sub-regions on Africa.
He said with the adoption of the ECOWAS protocols on the origin criteria, there is now free circulation of industrial goods which are registered under the ECOWAS Trade Liberation Scheme (ETLS), which has facilitated trade within its member states with benefits.
Ambassador Kpodo noted that 22 Ghanaian industrial products were given approval to enjoy the benefits under the ETL scheme in the first quarter of this year.
He said in enhancing trade within the sub-region demanded effective transport infrastructure to be put in place since these conditions generate both increases of transport costs and travel time thereby hampering trade.
ECOWAS has therefore initiated programmes such as West Africa Transport and Transit Facilitation Project from Tema to Paga, and the Abidjan-Lagos Trade and Transport Facilitation projects including the development of the coastal zones from Aflao to Elubo.
He added that three Joint-Border posts were to be established on Ghana's borders with its neighbouring countries including Paga (Ghana) - Burkina Faso, Noepe - Togo and Elubo - Cote d'Ivoire.
The 'Regional Integration Month' is platform to sensitize stakeholders and the general public to the merits of maximum participation in and contribution to the process of regional integration to enable Ghana derive optimum benefits from its membership of the African Union and ECOWAS.
The Government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs intends to continue with the celebration of the regional integration month as a prelude to the African Union day on May 25, 2012 and Economic Community of West African States Day on May 28, 2012 respectively.
The Regional Integration Month starts from May 18 to June 8.