Aug 11, 2008, 7:55 AM
We sincerely agree with the Minister of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment, Kebba Touray, that it is imperative for our sub-region to move forward as a community and not as individual states for the latter will undermine our development process as a region.
Touray, who was speaking yesterday at the opening of a four-day regional meeting on trade liberalization under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and EPA Development Programme, said our sub-region has dedicated a significant quantum of time, as well as human and capital resources to this process, but we recognize that these negotiations are key, in our integration process and in redefining our economic relation with one of our key trade partners, the EU.
According to him, our choices have been narrowed by time and since we might not be able to return to the past nor can we remain stagnant, our only option is to move forward guided by a well thought-out strategy within the framework of give and take, mutual respect and mutual interest.
One thing very clear today is that the world of tomorrow is not one of small nations, and that no small nation will in the long run be at the forefront of global competition, hence the need for integration.
This is our fervent belief, given the fact that despite its vast resources and market, our sub-region and the continent in general has little to show in terms of integration.
We have always emphasised in these pages that we must become part and parcel of the global order, where regions unite their efforts at promoting growth and economic development.
Our sub-region and the continent, in particular, have to rely more on itself by boosting its productive sectors and increasing trade among member countries.
Without this, we will only be enriching others and making ourselves poorer every day.
As Africans and West Africans, in particular, we need to harmonise our laws and all security-related policies.
Our leaders, who from time to time meet to discuss about the sub-region and the continent, should put more emphasis on cooperation in key areas, notably trade and free movement of people and goods.
In the field of transport, our leaders must ensure vehicles move freely between countries in the sub-region and the continent. They should have direct access to our respective capitals.
As the world continues to grapple with the effects of the economic downturn, our part of the world must not stand aside, merely watching.
There should be smooth unhindered movement of vehicles and people transporting goods from one country to the other.
Unless we integrate, our sub-region and the continent, in particular, will find it very difficult to save its people from poverty using its resources.