The eighth Annual Borderless Conference advocating the free flow of goods and services among member countries of the Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS), was on Wednesday opened in Accra.
The three-day event is being held under the theme, ‘Facilitating intra-regional trade in West Africa: Emerging trends’.
Representatives from professional organisations in the transport and logistics, trade and industry and finance as well as development partners from Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Mali, Niger and La Cote d’Ivoire are attending the conference.
It is being held under the auspices of Borderless Alliance, an advocacy organisation on the free flow of goods and services in the region, in accordance with the relevant protocols.
Welcoming the participants, Ms Benonita Bismark, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Shipper Authority (GSA), said the Authority has been collaborating with the West African Trade Hub and subsequently Borderless Alliance for the past 13 years to pursue the agenda of fluidity in trade traffic in the sub-region.
She said this was being done through advocacy and development of innovative products for addressing bottlenecks to trade along the transit corridors.
Ms Bismark said key among these innovations was the implementation of the Electronic-platform (E-Platform ) portal as well as a dedicated mobile telephone line for the reporting and monitoring of the non-tariff related barriers along the Transit Corridor.
She said it was important to underscore the fact that the Authority within the framework of its mandate was committed to addressing the recurring challenges affecting transit shippers adding that the Authority has also undertaken interventions that were aimed at promoting the corridor and improving transit trade.
Mr Titus Glover, Deputy Minister of Transport, said the government remained committed in tackling issues of road transport and would work closely with industry players to ensure the smooth movement of goods and people within the sub-region.
He said since transport played a crucial role in trade facilitation, social development, national and regional growth, reducing cost, delays and all necessary obstacles within the transport corridors within the sub-region would not only make trading more competitive and accessible but also bring about developments.
“It is however unfortunate that the implementation of the several regional policies such as the axle road regime, the ECOWAS Common External Tariff, the protocol on the free movement of goods and persons across the sub-region have been confronted with challenges that militate against national, regional and continental efforts to industrialise,” he said.
Mr Glover said the coming into effect of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA) was therefore a welcomed boost and that it was his expectation that the conference would come out with practical and workable recommendations to further boost intra-regional trade.
BY LAWRENCE MARKWEI