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ECOWAS Calls For Elimination Of Trade Barriers

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President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean- Claude Kassi Brou has called for increase in  intra-regional trade, with particular reference to the elimination of formal and informal barriers . He stressed that it will facilitate the achievement of the single currency in the year 2020.

Kassi Brou who made the call during a  seminar on the ‘ECOWAS Single currency in Dakar,’ Senegal, disclosed that countries that meet the convergence criteria will commence the process.

According to him , recommendations that will push towards  the success of the creation of the Single Currency had been made and this includes , ensuring free movement of labor and capital within the region but through flexible wages and the banking system.

Other recommendations he reeled out to include, Increasing Intra-regional trade, including the elimination of formal and informal barriers to trade as well as  developing infrastructure to facilitate trade.

Pursuing vigorously the reforms at the level of the Member States in the area of monetary and fiscal policies management, to boost the credibility of the Single Currency.

He said, ECOWAS also recommended the  diversification of the economies of the region so as to reduce impact of external shocks.

He said, a road map of specific activities  has been put in place to help achieve the single currency dream.

According to him, “ECOWAS has continued to  insists that work has to be done with the professionals (CBN) deeply involved.

“Currency is tied down to Central Bank, so, aside the committees that works at both the technical and management level, the Central Bank plays a major role before its gets to the head of State.

“So we have been working and bent on result. We are critical in key decisions that we need to take, so work is ongoing. We pay special attention to all maps presented by the various teams . we are a united force.

Brou who highlighted some of the challenges faced to include, “ inadequate policy reforms said, “to achieve single currency, we have some criteria, very critical ones at that. He also cited  that the budget deficit in relation to GDP must be less than 3 per cent, as he advised countries to make efforts to achieve that.

“The second criteria, inflation rate should be less than ten percent, so countries need to work to achieve that.

On the other hand, “the second criteria says the financing of the deficit from central bank should not be more than ten percent; countries need to work to achieve that.

Another criteria according to him is that foreign exchange reserve needs to be at least at a level of three months of import.

“So these are key criteria and objective parameters that will guide us through the road map to Single Currency, so countries are working together”.

Commissioner for Macroeconomic Policy and Economic Research of the ECOWAS Commission Dr Kofi Apraku said there are several reasons for the creation of a monetary Union within ECOWAS.

He explained that ECOWAS single currency is a statutory obligation. He added that Article 55 of the 1993 Revised ECOWAS Treaty, states that “Member

States undertake to complete within five years of an Economic and Monetary Union”.

He added that the coexistence of eight non-convertible currencies within ECOWAS does not promote the development of Intra-regional trade, which is still low.

LEADERSHIP Sunday writes in spite of the implementation of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme and Common External Tariff, the average Intra -ECOWAS trade between 2013 and 2017 was 11.3 percent of total trade including 12.2 percent for Intra-Community exports and 10.7 percent for imports”.

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