The United States Agency for International Development(USAID) in collaboration with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will on Thursday,January 31, 2013 host a conference dubbed ?Food across Borders? in Accra.

The conference will bring together private sector producers, processors, transporters and traders of West Africa to address policy makers on the difficulties in the market and deliberate on the measures to solve such problems.

Briefing the press on the purpose of the conference, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources for ECOWAS, Mr.Lapodini Marc Atouge stated that after two decades of approving the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS), the region?s economic actors still find trading cumbersome, expensive, and unpredictable.

According to him, the time was apt for ECOWAS to ensure the implementationof the ETLS as a means of ensuring free trade among member countries and also forge ?true regional integration.?

This will involve expanding awareness of the regulations that are already in place, clarifying the rights and responsibilities of each actor and improve upon measures to enforce the protocol.

?It?s now time to agree on commitments that would result in the implementation of the ETLS protocol,? Mr. Marc Atouge indicated.

The Regional Agricultural Director for USAID, Dr. Candace Buzzard disclosed to the media that the government of America was in full support of such pursuits in the sub-region.

She said the American government will continue to fund efforts that would aim at improving the competition in the transportation and logistics sector, reducing legal and regulatory barriers to trade and improving the efficiency of regional market transactions through market facilitation.

STORY: EVANS OBIRI APPIAH

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