The Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), Special Representative to Liberia, Tunde Ajisomo, has called for the creation of a single continental market for goods and services, noting that free movement of business people and investments would help to bring deeper integration and turn the single African economies into a more coherent, larger single market.
Amb. Ajisomo made the remarks at the Sensitization Workshop on Trade Protocols and Agreements for the Private Sector held at a resort in Monrovia. The workshop was graced by partners, including Borderless Alliance Executive Secretary, Justin Bayili, GIZ project director Ulrich Thuer, and others.
Amb. Ajisomo said the sheer size of the single market would provide a more conducive environment for industrial diversification and regional complementarities than what is viable under existing individual country approaches to development or Regional Economic Communities (RECs).
“The larger and more viable economic space would allow African markets to function better and promote competition, as well as resolve the challenges of multiple and overlapping RECs thereby helping to boost intra-continental trade,” Amb. Ajisomo said.
He recalled that on March 21 2019, marked exactly a year since the historic signature of soon-to-be the largest free trade area agreement, which is African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). According to him, this was a symbolic day, not only for the 15 member states of ECOWAS region but for all the African countries in the AfCFTA.
“On this day… as some of you recall, 44 of 55 African countries signed the AfCETA agreement. We have made progress since then. Today, it is encouraging to note that the signatures have risen to 54 with the remainder of only the State Eritrea that is yet to sign the agreement,” Amb. Ajisomo said.
Amb. Ajisomo lauded the GIZ and the Borderless Alliance for their wonderful support towards the workshop, which he said was allowing everyone to exchange ideas on a topical issue as far as the development of the African continent, is concerned.
“We have urged our member States, including Liberia, yet to ratify the agreement to do so Amb. Ajisomo said.
According to him, the AfCFTA agreement may have far reaching implications for the ECOWAS trade objective, including the ECOWAS common external tariff and the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme and other servitor ce regulations, if all member states do not begin the implementations of the agreement at the same time.
“That is to say, all 15 ECOWAS member states must be state parties at the same time. Stakeholders in the different member states need to be briefed of excluding three percent of their ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) and designating seven percent of products as sensitive on trade objective. This workshop will be an opportunity both capacity building and sensitization on topic that is so dear to African leaders,” he added.
Peter D. Somah, Assistant Commerce Minister for Trade Services, said the workshop is pivotal to building the capacity of participants in promoting World Trade Organization (WTO).
“We are delighted that Liberia was chosen to host the workshop and it puts Liberia at an advantage. We are aware that Liberia will benefit immensely from this event and Liberia is committed in making sure that all protocols are observed,” Mr. Somah who spoke on behalf of the government said.