FG urges entrepreneurs to embrace ECOWAS trade scheme

FG urges entrepreneurs to embrace ECOWAS trade scheme
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama


The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has urged exporting manufacturers to key into the trade immense benefits of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme.

The call was made at a workshop on “The unhindered market access the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme offers.”

The workshop was organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Lagos.

The ETLS is a tool for achieving a free trade area. The tool consists of elements such as the rules of origin and other elements of the procedure to benefit from the ETLS.

It is a trading instrument aimed at encouraging duty-free trade among ECOWAS member states, a bloc which averages at least $12bn in trade annually.

In his remarks, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada, said the workshop was informed by the need to create awareness for the ETLS.

According to him, the workshop is to ensure that Nigerian companies fully maximise the opportunities of the scheme in the overall interest of the country’s economic growth and development.

He noted that the scheme would deepen ECOWAS sub-regional integration.

He added that the ETLS mechanism presents a unique opportunity to advance Nigeria’s goal for sustainable economic growth and development, as the scheme would boost trade, capture new markets and in turn generate foreign exchange.

He said, “As we are all aware, no country can survive on its own. Trading as well as knowledge of the terms of the trade is important to aid our industrial enterprises in furtherance of our national interest as well as maintaining regional strength.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is well aware of the information gap that has led to bottlenecks experienced in the registration process under the ETLS and hopes that this sensitisation programme will ease those hurdles. Nonetheless, the values of the ETLS remain crucial to Nigeria’s drive for economic growth and development.”

On his part, the President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who was represented by the Deputy-President of the chamber, Gabriel Idahosa, said the OPS and the ECOWAS Commission need to work together to improve regional integration in West Africa.

This ambitious objective, he noted, can only be met through the combined efforts of all relevant parties, including chambers of commerce, governments, security agencies, and development partners.

He said, “While the global economy declined sharply due to high inflation, trade limitation due to border closure, monetary tightening, and ambiguities from the ongoing Ukraine-Russia war, as well as the persisting COVID-19 pandemic, the economies of members countries were not exempted from these unwelcome shocks, with the agricultural sector slowly becoming immune to global distortions, while manufacturing and services sector are being severely impacted by the twin effects of global inflationary pressure and exchange rate shock.”

The Head of the ECOWAS National Unit, Ambassador Yakubu Dadu, urged stakeholders to comply with the stipulated regulations for becoming part of the scheme.

According to him, Nigerian exporters stand to enjoy many benefits from the ETLS. Hence, the need to key into the initiative, which has been modified several times over the years since its inception in 1979 to accommodate the dynamics of modern trade.

Also speaking, the Trade Promotion Officer at the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Sunday Ayodele, noted that even though Nigeria had somewhat dominated trade with the West African bloc, much more work needed to be done to realise the country’s full trade potential.

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