In a bid to ensure free movement of people, goods and services, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has completed the draft of the code that will help West African countries and the neighbours’ trade within and outside the region unhindered.
The Vice-President, ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Toga Mcintosh, explained that promoting regional integration within the sub region was critical to the continent’s economic growth and development.
The Vice-President, who spoke during the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI’s) 124th Annual General Meeting, said the draft community investment policy, which is to be completed in 2013, will monitor the ECOWAS common investment market in the region.
He added that the recent adoption of the common investment market framework, the supplementary Act on investment rules and the preparation of a community investment code are all key developmental projects aimed at facilitating the integration process.
Mcintosh said in the area of infrastructure, the commission has been directed to step up efforts in the development of road, air, rail and energy saying that plans are underway to enhance their operations.
“We have commenced the construction of seven joint border posts to provide one-stop customs and immigration clearance of people and goods between member states and to address issues of political risk, we have concluded studies on the modalities to establish an investment guarantee/reinsurance agency,” he said.
He also stated that aggressive work has been initiated in the development and integration of a regional capital market in partnership with the association of West African Stock Exchanges and the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI).
The Vice-President urged the LCCI and other chambers within the region to be more vigilant and responsive to the many opportunities within the community that are glaring for grasps.
According to him, nearly 400 million people are living and surviving within the region where majority are young and could be well positioned to become active participants in the continent’s quest for enhanced trade and industry if empowered and properly harnessed.
He pointed out that the international business world has increased its focus on the potentials of the region maintaining that partnership discussions are going on all around to forge business ties with the region.
He stated that the institutional environment to support a competitive economy was undergoing a significant change and said that the continent was beginning to see an increased level of support to the private sector development.
He pointed out that the long awaited vision 2020 is fast approaching adding that the challenge now is for the sub region to work together with the necessary commitment in playing its respective and collective roles in the transformation of the sub region.
Also speaking at the event, the President, LCCI, Mr. Goodie Ibru said the LCCI appreciated the importance of regional trade and the need to remove current barriers, noting that the chamber was concerned about the slow pace of integration in the West African region.
He said trade within the region has become more imperative in today’s business environment and said that global competitiveness is a major factor in achieving efficiency, which is itself dependent on market size and the ability to enjoy economies of scale.
He stressed that there is a strong relationship between the development of intra-regional trade and the promotion of economic integration in the region, adding that integration is the main vehicle for the boosting of trade within the region.