Dr Ametituoi Folli interacting with Clement Nyaaba, Director, Multilateral, Regional and Bilateral Trade at the Ministry of Trade and Industry

Representatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are participating in a three-day trade negotiation capacity building seminar in Accra to sharpen their skills for making effective and efficient trade policies.

The workshop, organized by Ghana’s Ministry of Trade, is jointly funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and ECOWAS.

Speaking at the opening, Dr Ametituoi Folli, Facilitator of the ECOWAS Trade Negotiation Capacity Building (TNCB) project, stated that it was important to hasten regional integration processes to build and consolidate the capacity of member states to maximize opportunities in negotiations.

He explained that the workshop would help identify the capacity gaps in negotiating skills and techniques, which impede the sub-region from maximizing opportunities in international trade.

The participants, which include officials of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Ghana Immigration Service, senior policy makers, government officials and non-state actors, would consider external common tariffs, the ECOWAS investment code and trade liberalization, among member states.

Alex Dadzawa, Head of Projects at the Ghana Export Promotions Authority, who spoke to CITY & BUSINESS GUIDE in an interview, stressed the need for negotiators to acquire general knowledge to enable them make informed decisions during trade negotiations.

“It is critical that negotiators are equipped with the requisite knowledge to be able to go into negotiations. As you know in any negotiation if you have the knowledge you have the upper hand and you have the necessary information to negotiate with your partner you are able to acquire a lot of the concessions that otherwise you would have missed.”

He was convinced capacity building would help the negotiators to make the best decisions on the going trade negotiation with the EU and other partners on a common position as the ECOWAS trading bloc, which is made up of 15 countries.

The 15-member ECOWAS bloc include Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo and Mauritania.

Mr. Dadzawa mentioned that they would come up with a harmonized tariff system which is being impeded by the variance in tariff systems.

To ensure trade liberalization, he undersored the need to deal with trade barriers which include high tariffs regimes and non-tariff barriers such as import prohibition and quota, among other restrictions.

He was of the view that intra West African trade was the best way out.

By Emelia Ennin Abbey

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