Abuja — The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs. Mariam Katagum, has emphasised the need for the harmonisation of standards among member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
This, she said would help strengthen industrialisation process and enhance quality culture as well as improve intra-regional competitiveness in trade.
Katagum, while declaring open the ECOWAS Ministers of Trade and Industry meeting, which was held virtually in Abuja, said in order to ensure that opportunities from both regional and continental free trade initiatives are realised, necessary structures and instruments are particularly crucial to promoting trade and industry.
The minister, who represented the Ghana's Minister of Trade and Industry as the Chairperson of the occasion, said ECOWAS continues to be a key pillar of the African Union and an example of a well-functioning regional economic community.
The minister noted that ECOWAS had over the years made considerable achievements towards the establishment of a common market, especially in the areas of free movement of persons and goods as well as harmonisation of policies.
She said: "Since our last ministerial meeting in October 2020, our countries have been working individually and collectively to protect lives by combating the spread of the COVID-19 whilst seeking to promote livelihoods by stimulating economic recovery.
"In December 2020, the 13th Extraordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union took the historic decision to start trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on goods with agreed rules origin."
In a statement by the Assistant Director of Information in the ministry, Mrs. Oluwakemi Ogunmakinwa, Katagum acknowledged and commended the efforts of experts of trade and industry saddled with the responsibility to work and make recommendations on documents relating to African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
She also lauded the regional institutional arrangement to boost trade, harmonised standards, regulations on implementation of standards and ECOWAS certification mark as well as ECOWAS post COVID- 19 industry recovery programme.
The minister said: "Undoubtedly, the instruments being considered will promote trade and mitigate the impact of the pandemic on our economies, especially for SME's."
She also appreciated her counterparts for their leadership roles in their respective countries to promote regional integration and economic development for the benefit of all West African citizens as well as the development partners for their technical and financial support towards the economic development of the region.
The treaty establishing ECOWAS was signed in Lagos, Nigeria on May 28, 1975.