A Gambian parliamentary delegation last week returned from a week-long joint committee meeting on trade, customs and free movement, legal and judicial affairs, administration, finance and budget control economic policies held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
Hon. Abdoulie Suku Singhateh, who headed the Gambian delegation to the ECOWAS parliament, alongside Hon. Ebrima Jammeh, National Assembly member for Foni Bintang, participated in the forum, whose subject of discussion focused on the Economic Partnership and the Development of West Africa.
The EPA between the EU and West Africa is part of a larger agreement between the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and the EU.
The ACP-EU cooperation agreements have, over the years, had numerous renegotiations in a bid to evolve practical benefits to its partners.
Speaking to The Point on the significance of the meeting, Singhateh said the subject discussed at the forum necessarily deserves special attention.
According to him, the manner in which the world is trading today has changed radically from what we have been used to in the past.
He noted that the development of technology, in particular, information and communication technologies (ICTs) has reduced the world to a global village with infinite possibilities; thus the advent of globalization has keyed into these opportunities and created an economic environment that is very fast, and that offers very little room for maneuvers.
Noting that efficiency is now the currency in which the world trades, Hon. Singhateh said that the global economic space is oriented to dispense rewards and returns to large, structured and efficient economies.
“The developed countries with their already large and efficient economies have jumped the gun and organized themselves into even larger and more efficient regional groupings. Africa, including our particular region, is characterized by small inefficient economies, and is still struggling with the merits and demerits of regional integration,” Singhateh added.
The Lower Baddibou constituency parliamentarian also noted that the European Union is the largest and most successful regional grouping in the world and, therefore, both possibilities and dangers are involved in developing this relationship.
“I prefer to hold the optimistic view that we can agree beneficial terms with the EU,” he said, adding that West Africa can no longer justify the sustenance of unwieldy economies with dilapidated infrastructure that is a characteristic of the African continent.
“We cannot continue to plan our future on the goodwill of third parties however well-intentioned these parties may be. We must have a long-term development strategy for intra-community trade, and an external strategy for trade with other regions and countries outside our community,” he stated.