Minister calls on Nigeria to reconsider ban
Berekum (B/A), Aug. 11, GNA - Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku, Minister of Regional Cooperation and NEPAD has called on the Government of Nigeria to reconsider its intended decision to ban Ghana-made products on the Nigerian market as such an action would be at variance with the ECOWAS Protocol Agreement aimed at promoting trade integration among member countries.
Dr Apraku, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Offinso North in the Ashanti Region made this remark at a day's workshop for border operatives and other security agencies in Brong-Ahafo Region held at Vision Hotel, Berekum on Thursday.
It was organised by the Ministry of Regional Cooperation and NEPAD and attended by about 60 participants from the Police, Customs Excise and Prevention Services (CEPS) and Immigration Service on the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of persons, goods, services and right of establishment.
Dr. Apraku said if the ban was to work, it would affect about 40 local products and this could eventually lead to the folding up of, especially many private business enterprises, thereby worsening the unemployment situation in the country.
He referred to the forthcoming Nigerian trade fair in October, this year and said the main essence of a trade fair is to create a new trade market for the country concerned and wondered how Nigeria should decide to kick Ghana out from her market while expend another time to look for new hands in terms of trade markets.
Dr. Apraku urged the Government of Nigeria to show respect and commitment to ECOWAS Protocol saying in trade the word reciprocity played a major role.
He however, stressed that notwithstanding any impediment, Ghana, which is on record as one of the key players of ECOWAS Protocol would do her best to achieve her objective and appealed to the border operatives and other security agencies in the region to give of their best in that direction.
We must continue to maintain our clean record relating to the establishment of the Protocol to serve as inspiration for others to emulate, he stressed.
He added: "Ghana is very clean. We are on the verge of making economic breakthrough because of our democratic administrative process." Dr. Apraku told the participants that the workshop, an enlightenment and sensitisation one of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme and protocol on free movement of persons, goods and services would also give them the opportunity to further strengthen the shared responsibility and commitment the Ministry and the border operatives shared in looking for innovative ways to develop and boost the private sector in carrying forward sub-regional integration process. He encouraged the participants to continue consolidating the free trade area to make Ghana proud among member states.
Dr. Apraku said the sub-region was also pursuing macro-economic policy harmonization leading to the creation of a single regional currency, adoption of common external tariff leading to the establishment of an ECOWAS Partnership Agreement with the European Union, infrastructural development and enhanced service delivery, agricultural and environmental issues, human development, among others.
The Community was also to create a regional unified market - principally, a customs union - with the trade liberalization scheme and the introduction of a Common External Tariff (CET), he said, adding that, in pursuance to consolidate the new economic concept, adopted since January 2000, the ECOWAS and UEMOA Trade Liberalization Schemes had been harmonized He said the proposed terms of reference to be carried within the context of ECOWAS economic partnership agreement to come into effect on 2008 under which member countries would suffer no tax obligations to more products would be inimical to Ghana.
The agreement would expect, for instance Ghana's processed material for overseas to attract less payment in that country.
Dr. Apraku said such unattractive economic measures raised by international business partners should be a challenge for Ghanaians to sharpen economic strategies so that the nation did not fall victim when the deal took off in the year 2008.
In a welcoming address, Nana Kwadwo Seinti Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister urged the participants, as security agents, first to have contact with people entering Ghana from neighbouring countries to show the needed courtesy to handle them at home Nana Seinti deplored the popular questions associated with some border operatives in the course of handling them, stressing that a question like "May I know who you are?" should not form a hallmark of the work of a border operative or a security agent.
"You don't need to know a person before giving courtesy to him or her", Nana Seinti emphasized.
Topics to be discussed include "An analysis of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme, Products, procedures and challenges", "The ECOWAS Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, Service, Right of Residence and Establishment", "The ECOWAS Trade Regime - The role of CEPS in facilitating speedy clearance of goods" and "The role of the police in ensuring crime free cross border trade."