Countries in the West African region were yesterday reassured of the support of the United States in their quest to establishing a borderless trade environment in the ECOWAS region.
The assurance was delivered by the United States ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, at the third conference of the Borderless Alliance in Lagos, themed “Borderless 2014 enabling growth” where he noted that with freer trade we will see increased economic development across the region. Entwistle, called for the repositioning of the private sector through proactive policies as trading is essentially between companies and not between countries.
“Facilitating trade is not merely a development objective, it is a development imperative with freer trade, comes economic growth and prosperity throughout the region and the United States is here to lend our assistance to reach these goals,” he said.
In his remarks, ZiadHamoui, the President of the Borderless Alliance, noted that over the past two years the organization has been advocating the removal of trade barriers in West Africa which has led to their being recognised as genuine ECOWAS technical partners.
“We have taken a practical approach towards the regions many problems addressing them with concrete actions with an active presence in nine West African countries,” he said.
He stated that regional trade indeed is all about the little expenses associated with moving goods and services across West Africa which contributes in making trade in our region one of the most expensive places to do business if not the most expensive place.
“Our natural resources travel half the world away, get manufactured and shipped back at much cheaper price than when we want to do it ourselves sadly our trade and transport system are cumbersome, inefficient, time consuming and prone to manipulation,” he said.
He explained that it was only by bringing these costs down and opening the regional markets that we can hope for any improvement in regional trade stressing that essence of the Borderless Alliance is to promote regional integration not only to make trade less expensive but also to make the cost of living more affordable. In his remarks, the managing director of the Nigerian Export Import Bank, NEXIM, Robert Orya, noted that the significance of the forum was underscored by the relevance of trade to global development.
“Empirical evidence has shown that unlike the other developed regions of the world, Africa has continued to underperform its growth and development potentials, partly due to its low trade volumes, amongst other factors,” he said.