West Africa Must Develop Common Commodity Finance Regulatory Framework

commoditiesWest Africa needs to develop a common trade and commo-dity finance regulatory framework to attract funding to the sector, Anne-Marie Woolley, Director and Head of Trade Finance, Africa, Standard Bank has said.

“The different trade and commodity finance regulations in the West African sub-region is a disincentive to investors,’’ she stated.
Speaking to journalists at the just-ended West Africa Trade and Commodity Finance Conference in Accra on Wednesday, Ms Woolley said the respective   countries in the sub-region had  developed their trade and commodity finance rules based on the models of their colonial masters, a situation she said was not good.

Against this backdrop, she entreated ECOWAS to develop a common regulatory platform for member countries to ensure uniformity of trade and commodity finance rules.

The fifth annual West Africa Trade and Commodity Finance Conference, the second to be organised in the country, was put up by the Exporta Group, one of the world’s leading trade, commodity and export finance publishing and events company and was sponsored by Stanbic Bank Ghana.

It brought together traders, corporate organisations, investors, insurers, lawyers and policymakers from Africa, Europe as well as the Americas to discuss current trends and key issues surrounding global trade and commodity finance.

Ms. Woolley for instance said trade and commodity finance regulation in  Portuguese and French speaking countries were tilted to the trade rules in Portugal and France.

West Africa, she said was projected to  attract a lot of  investments in the trade and commodity finance sector and stressed the  need for the laws in the sector to be harmonised for the benefit of investors.

Asked whether Ghana’s economy was performing well, Ms Woolley responded in the affirmative, and said Ghana should initiate strategies to address the infrastructural challenges facing the country.

“Ghana has good economic and social policies.  The faster the Ghanaian economy will grow or develop, will, to a large extent, depend on how fast the government implements those economic and social policies,’’ she stated.

A  Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Kweku Ricketts-Hagan lauded the Exporta Group for organising the conference, saying the conference had come at a time when trade had become one key parameter for the West Africa integration drive.
Outlining the government’s programmes and policy initiatives in promoting the country’s trade and export, he said  government had developed the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA) framework of trade liberalisation to promote the international competitiveness of domestic enterprises.

“The implementation of the GSGDA policies will focus on achieving the following objectives:  improve export competitiveness, diversify and increase export markets, and accelerate economic integration with other regional and or sub-regional states,’’ he stated.

The Deputy Minister said key strategies adopted to achieve the international trade objectives include maintaining competitive exchange rates, improving the import/export regime and the establishing of the Ghana International Trade Commission to deal with unfair international trade practices.

Touching on intra-regional trade, Mr Ricketts-Hagan said there were more opportunities for the West African countries to improve on current trade which stood at 15 per cent.

“An increase in intra-regional trade is not only an important factor to speed up the process and better manage the relations of the region with the rest of the world but also to manage external shocks and the multilateral negotiations,’’ he stated.

The Deputy Minister expressed the hope that the conference would come up with innovative mechanisms adaptable within the West African context which would propel trade and commodity finance in the various West African states.  By Kingsley Asare

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