Regional experts have approved a programme to formalize informal trade in the West African sub-region as part of efforts to reduce poverty, boost economic development and integration in line with the ECOWAS Vision 2020.

The experts made the approval at a two-day workshop in Abuja, Nigeria which discussed a study on the establishment of a Regulatory Informal Trade Programme in the ECOWAS region.

In a statement, ECOWAS said the study outlined a strategy for mainstreaming informal trade into the formal economy and formalising existing trade channels by making them simple and predictable,

“This process would involve business registration, data collection and reform of administrative and institutional framework, especially customs, free movement and quality management systems with a view to maximizing the benefits accruable to traders,” said the regional bloc April 12, 2012.

According to ECOWAS, the operational strategy will be implemented based a on roadmap and regional programme of action in the short, medium and long-term phases.

The final stage would involve institutional reforms focusing on the establishment of a transparent fiscal rule accessible to trade operators and the simplification of tax structures and cross-border procedures, it added.

ECOWAS stated that there will also be facilitation of formal access to credit, funding and insurance, improving regional industrial policy and the completion of the ECOWAS single market and Common External Tariff.

By Ekow Quandzie

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