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25.05.2007 General News

Remove barriers to achieve intra-regional trade – Akufo-Addo

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The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Cooperation and NEPAD, Nana Akufo-Addo has said the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has made modest achievements in its 32 years of existence and called for support for it to realize the dreams of its founders.

In a statement released in Accra on Thursday ahead of the anniversary, which falls on May 28, Nana Akufo-Addo noted that in the vision of the founding fathers, a successful ECOWAS was expected to lead to a radical improvement in the standard of living of its people, ensure rapid economic growth, foster close relations among member states and contribute to the progress and development of Africa.

However, he said, more remained to be done to remove the many barriers impeding increased intra-regional trade and to build the physical infrastructure required to promote regional integration.

The Minister said Ghana had continued to commit significant financial and human resources to ensure the maintenance of peace in the sub-region because of its unwavering conviction that peace and stability were indispensable for durable and sustainable development.

"The numerous conflicts that have bedeviled our sub-region are not conducive to the process of social, political and economic integration. Every effort must be made by all the leaders in the sub-region through good governance and the rule of law to create inclusive societies where all are empowered to partake in decision-making,” he said.

Nana Akufo-Addo said the beginning of this year saw the transformation of the ECOWAS Executive Secretariat into a Commission
with supranational powers.

As part of the transformation process, other key institutions such as the ECOWAS Parliament and ECOWAS Court of Justice have been restructured to make them more efficient and enable them to fully play their role in the integration and development process of the region.

Nana Akufo-Addo identified some of the achievements of ECOWAS as free movement of persons, abolition of visa requirements and a Trade Liberalisation Scheme to facilitate free movement.

The scheme, he said, was aimed at systematically reducing and eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers among member-states leading to the formation of a Free Trade Area.

Source: GNA

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