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ECOWAS trade liberation scheme capacity building wraps up

Jul 26, 2013, 11:42 AM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

The Ministry of Trade Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, in collaboration with Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA), on Wednesday wrapped up a daylong seminar on ECOWAS Trade Liberation Scheme (ETLS) capacity building workshop.

The seminar, which attracted over sixty participants from various sectors within the country, was held at the SunSwing Hotel.

The objective of the seminar was to provide stakeholders with an overview of the ETLS to create awareness in terms of procedures and application processes as well as discuss the challenges being faced in the implementation of the ETLS.

According to the trade ministry officials, the seminar was meant to create a platform for existing ETLS holders within the region, the challenges as well as the best practices on how to improve the process of implementation of the scheme.

In her welcoming remarks, the chief executive officer of GIEPA, Fatoumata Mbenga Jallow, said the seminar provides an opportunity for The Gambia to examine trade promotion as an engine of economic growth and more broadly of human development.

The linkages of trade to poverty reduction are now a mainstream development notion, she said.

She noted that the ETLS mechanism is a regional cooperation vehicle aimed at supporting ECOWAS countries to better incorporate trade into their development strategies, and to more effectively integrate into global trade relation in a beneficial manner.

Mrs Jallow used the opportunity to thank the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Regional Integration and Employment for their leadership and support in organizing the workshop.

For her part, Naffie Barry, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, said the ETLS is the main ECOWAS operational tool for promoting the West Africa region as a free trade area and remains the most important instrument for determining the success of regional integration.

She noted that with effective implementation of ETLS, constraints in supply chain and trade logistics, as lack of harmonized transport system, frequent reloading of goods, port and border congestion, excessive documentation, requirements, and burdensome cross-border procedures should be a thing of the past.

The success of any integration scheme like, ETLS, depends on how it enhances completion and efficiency within the integration area, through increased specialization, ensuring better allocation of scarce resources into the most productive areas.

Madam Barry also encouraged the business community to ensure they fully understand the ETLS.