At the opening of the event, Dr. Ladi Hamalai of the National Institute for Legislative Studies, organizers of the session said the members of ECOWAS are confronted with several challenges such as border problems and financial difficulties which have negatively affected the development of member states.
Chairperson of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers and Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration in her address stated that in spite of the successful implementation of administrative frameworks for full integration of member states, some challenges still persist. She however added that the sub-region can attain full integration if it takes the establishment of a free trade area, acquisition of a common ECOWAS currency and a continental customs union one at a time.
On the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), Hon. Hanna Tetteh said without the assistance of the European Union, the sub-region will be “killing ourselves” with the inability to move products freely and make products competitive although arguments have been raised that local industries will be crippled if the agreement is consented to. She further called on parliamentarians to debate the issues without emotion, propaganda or ideologies in order to come out with meaningful contributions to held the process of regional integration.
Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Senator Ike Ekweremadu described as “alarming and embarrassing” the level of intra-regional trade in the sub-region. According to him, 90% of exports of ECOWAS countries are to Europe, Asia and other continents. He further expressed worry “that despite many years of work on liberalization policies in the areas of free trade, common passport, monetary union etc, strong impediments to free trade and investment persists”. Senator Ekweremadu however charged parliamentarians to proffer practical solutions and creative ideas that would help the sub-region realize its full socio-economic potentials.
This is the second time Ghana is hosting the entire membership of ECOWAS, making it the first country to do so apart from Nigeria.
By: Jonas Nyabor/233livenews