Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Mariam Yalwaji Katagum has said that Regional Harmonized Standards would help to strengthen the industrialization process, enhance quality culture and improve on competitiveness while facilitating Intra-Regional Trade in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Amb. Katagum said this whike declaring open the ECOWAS Ministers of Trade and Industry Meeting virtually in Abuja.
Amb. Katagum who represented the Minister of Trade and Industry of Ghana as the Chairperson of the occasion emphasized that in order to ensure the opportunities from both regional and continental free trade initiatives are realized, necessary structures and instruments are necessary to promote trade and industry
The Minister said: “ECOWAS continues to be a key pillar of the African Union and an example of a well-functioning Regional Economic Community” adding that ECOWAS has over the years made considerable achievements towards the establishment of a common market, especially in the areas of free movement of persons and goods as well as harmonization of policies.
“Since our last Ministerial meeting in October 2020, our countries have been working individually and collectively to protect lives by combating the spread of the COVID-19 whilst seeking to promote livelihoods by stimulating economic recovery.
“In December 2021, the 13th Extraordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union took the historic decision to start trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on goods with agreed Rules Origin”, the Minister said.
She acknowledged and commended the efforts of National Experts of Trade and Industry saddled with the responsibility to work and make recommendations on documents relating to African Continental Free Trade Area; Regional institutional arrangement to boost trade; Regional Harmonized Standards; Regulations on Implementation of Standards and ECOWAS Certification Mark and ECOWAS Post Covid- 19 Industry Recovery Program.
Katagum said: “Undoubtedly, the instruments being considered will promote trade and mitigate the impact of the pandemic on our economies, especially for SMEs”.
The Minister appreciated her counterparts for their leadership roles in their respective countries to promote regional integration and economic development for the benefit of all West African citizens as well as the development partners for their technical and financial support towards the economic development of the region.
It would be recalled that the Treaty establishing the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was signed in Lagos, Nigeria on the 28th May, 1975.