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06.10.2008 Business & Finance

President Kufuor calls for more robust intra-regional trade

By gna

President John Agyekum Kufuor on Monday called
for more robust intra-regional trade among West African countries to help
them to effectively deal with the challenges of the global economic asymmetry.

This, he said, was also a necessary "building-block" into the global market.

He was addressing the opening of the three-day Ghana-Nigeria Business Summit at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC).

"Promoting Trade and Investment" is the theme of the meeting, heralding the establishment of a Ghana-Nigeria Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

It is being attended by a number of business leaders from the public and private sectors.

Ghana and Nigeria between them account for about 70 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the West African sub-region and President Kufuor said it was a paradox they did not have formal trade agreement.

This has left business to be transacted largely through informal and un-coordinated initiatives.

Bi-lateral trade between the two, which is valued at 64 million dollars in 2000, rose to about 2.6 billion dollars in 2007.

President Kufuor who supported the establishment of the joint Chamber said it would in no doubt enable them to fully utilize each other's competitive advantage in its area of specialization.

When done fairly and under-pinned by right measures and policies, trade relations would "not be a zero-sum game in which one country takes undue advantage of the other", he said.

He said he was confident that it would rather lead to a win-win situation, where each other's interest would be served.

President Kufuor used the occasion to draw attention of business people in the two countries to pay due attention to cross-border security by adhering to the ECOWAS ban on trade in small arms and illicit drugs.

He said they could not afford to destabilize the sub-region for mere wealth.

Ghana's Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mrs Gifty Ohene Konadu, said the summit would address problems including delays at the ports of entry, unapproved checkpoints and inferior goods.

Ghana and Nigeria, she said, were more than ready to do business.

Dr Bamanga Tukor, President of African Business Roundtable, said the joint Chamber was the kind of co-operation among countries the sub-region required to speed up regional economic integration.

He said it would provide the platform for a conducive business environment and promote best practices.

Okyenhene Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin asked the businessmen to change their attitudes about their countries and their services saying, wealth must be acquired through decency and integrity.