Minister of Trade and Industry Haruna Iddrisu has said it is about time West African leaders put an end to the lip-service regarding intra-regional trade facilitation and rather adopt favourable policies that will create a common market in the ECOWAS sub-region.
“Government is committed to getting this common market established, but let me express regret that, at 50 years, African leaders -- including our own -- have paid too much lip-service to promoting regional trade and integration.
“We have no excuse at this stage because the European Union (EU) with more countries compared to ECOWAS has been able to provide a strong market for intra-regional trade while the same cannot be said of our sub-region,” he said.
“Currently, textiles produced in Ghana cannot find their way into Nigeria; neither can those made in Nigeria get to Togo and vice-versa. We need to get better if we are to achieve regional integration, and, therefore, there is the need for member-countries to open their doors to trade,” he added.
Mr. Iddrisu was speaking at the official launch of the 7th ECOWAS trade fair, which is scheduled to take place from October 24 to November 4 in Accra.
He said Ghana, as a middle-income country preparing to progress to an upper middle-income status, needs trade and investment and not only aid; and that there are numerous trade opportunities within the sub-region which ECOWAS member-countries can tap into to promote socio-economic progress.
He said Ghanaian companies and their West African counterparts should not only take full advantage of the trade fair to promote their products, deepen intra-regional trade and undertake market-testing of their products, but also leverage the unique opportunity to network with other businesses.
The 12-day fair is under the theme “Regional Integration through Trade” and will attract exhibitors from all ECOWAS member-countries.
Seth Twum Akwaboah, Executive Director of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), said he is so far impressed with the efforts made by organisers for the important event, stressing the significance of the theme.
“Regional integration is crucial to our development as a regional body. Ghanaian companies can be more competitive in the West African region than anywhere else,” Mr. Akwaboah said.
He asked members of the Association to take advantage of such opportunities to promote trade and growth while imploring them to showcase some unique Ghanaian products at the fair.
“AGI will take a good number of stands at the fair to showcase made-in-Ghana products,” he stated.
Frederick Y. Alipui, Vice-Chairman of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI), said the fair is coming at an auspicious time as it will go to augment efforts in the ongoing sub-regional free trade agenda, and assured of the Chamber’s “effective” participation.