22 February 2013

West Africa: Nexim Keen On Developing Borderless Ecowas Markets - MD

Nigerian Export Import Bank, NEXIM, says it is working hard to realise its dream of developing an Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, whose markets operate seamless commercial exchanges devoid of trade barriers among members.

The Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer of the Bank, Roberts Orya, said on Thursday at the annual conference of the Borderless Alliance in Accra, Ghana tagged 'Connecting Markets' that the bank is working relentlessly to pursue Nigeria's trade policy aimed at eliminating trade barriers and promoting borderless market economy in the region.

The NEXIM boss said though Borderless Alliance provides a forum to highlight the inherent trade inefficiencies in the region, a lot is required by partners to research into those obstacles that producers, traders, buyers and investors face; to help build a data base for decision makers who will come up with policies that would drive the change in the region's economy.

Mt. Orya, who spoke on the topic: 'Improving Investment Climate through Effective Movement of Goods and Persons in West Africa', lauded the Common Investment market initiative of the ECOWAS Commission to create an enabling environment to attract investment within the region, saying this was in line with NEXIM's dream for the region.

He said the ECOWAS Investment Policy Framework, IPF, was designed to facilitate the creation of a healthy business environment to attract investors as well as foster key trade policies, including a tax policy and corporate governance culture, to enhance investment promotion and facilitation.

Despite the benefits of the IPF and other frameworks to promote free trade within the sub-region as well as facilitate free movement of goods, persons and capital, he pointed out that they have so far not worked satisfactorily, because most ECOWAS members failed to show their commitments to the region's trade liberalization and road transit schemes.

Noting transport infrastructure as the major problem to regional trade facilitation, Mr. Orya urged ECOWAS members to urgently harmonize their macroeconomic policies on the issue, assuring of NEXIM Bank's commitment to facilitate the removal of all trade barriers within and even beyond the sub-region.

He, however, expressed regrets over the high transportation costs and excessive transit time, saying these have made intra-regional trade non-competitive between West African transport and logistics companies and those in other parts of the world.

He said the absence of a dedicated, safe and modern fleet to encourage and facilitate Atlantic short-sea trade has constituted a major barrier to efforts to increase intra-regional trade and free movement of persons, goods and services; adding that NEXIM Bank is determined to facilitate a private sector-driven Sealink initiative to link up the coastal members of ECOWAS with some Central African countries.

"An effective free movement of persons, goods and services is paramount to improving the investment climate," he said. "This calls for ECOWAS members to intensify activities on corridor management and border information centres to reduce incidences of non-tariff measures."

Borderless Alliance is a collaboration developed by Ghana for the USAID West Africa Trade Hub and public and private sector stakeholders, including ECOWAS, UEMOA, USAID, the World Bank, NEXIM, the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Organization, the USAID Agribusiness and Trade Promotion and Enhanced Agribusiness and Trade Promotion projects.

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