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22.04.2004 General News

ECOWAS Protocols not making impact

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Accra, April 22, GNA - Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku, Minister of Regional Cooperation and NEPAD, on Thursday said the various protocols of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) drawn up to enhance economic integration of countries in the Sub-Region had failed to make the desired impact since coming into force over two decades ago. This, he said, was not because the protocols were, bad but it was for lack of effective implementation.

The Minister said the failure and non-commitment of some member-countries to adhere to agreements that they themselves had ratified was making efforts at meeting the ideals of economic integration difficult.

Dr Apraku was speaking at a day's workshop for personnel of the Police, Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) and Immigration Service on the ECOWAS protocols on free movement of persons, goods and services and right to establishment.

The workshop aimed at sharpening the knowledge of the frontline agencies on the protocols to enhance their work.

Dr Apraku said Ghana was engaged in bilateral talks with some of the neighbouring countries to see how best to execute the protocols to resolve problems confronting exporters and traders, who do cross-border business in the Sub-Region.

Besides, there is an Inter-Ministerial Committee to see to the speedy implementation of all agreements reached at these bilateral talks.

The Minister said Ghana was able, through these bilateral negotiations, to secure the full commitment of Burkina Faso to the discharge of its obligations under the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS).

To reciprocate the gesture, Ghana was committed to reducing the checkpoints from Accra to Paga from 20 to four to facilitate free movement of goods and services.

Dr Apraku said to reverse the dismal trade statistics among the countries in the Sub-Region there was the need to ensure that the protocols in place were working to perfection.

He said the decision to launch a Free Trade Area in 2007 called for strict adherence to the implementation of the various protocols. Mr Bonaventure Adjavor, Economic Planning Officer, Ministry of Regional Cooperation and NEPAD (New Partnership for African Development), said trade liberalization had not performed well in the Sub-Region because of lack of mechanisms to enforce mutually agreed commitments as well as high transaction cost.