Abuja — Regional experts have approved a programme to formalize informal trade in the West African region as part of efforts to reduce poverty, boost economic development and integration in line with the ECOWAS Vision 2020.
This was the outcome of a two-day workshop which discussed a study on the establishment of a Regulatory Informal Trade Programme in the ECOWAS region.
Addressing the opening of the meeting held 26-27 March 2012 at the ECOWAS Commission’s Abuja headquarters, the Commissioner for Trade, Customs, Industry and Mines, Tourism and Free Movement, Mr. Hamid Ahmed, highlighted the importance of informal trade in the region, especially in employment and wealth creation.
The study outlined a strategy for mainstreaming informal trade into the formal economy and formalising existing trade channels by making them simple and predictable.
This process would involve business registration, data collection and reform of administrative and institutional framework, especially customs, free movement and quality management systems with a view to maximizing the benefits accruable to traders.
The operational strategy will be implemented based a roadmap and regional programme of action in the short, medium and long-term phases. The final stage would involve institutional reforms focusing on the establishment of a transparent fiscal rule accessible to trade operators and the simplification of tax structures and cross-border procedures.
There will also be facilitation of formal access to credit, funding and insurance, improving regional industrial policy and the completion of the ECOWAS single market and Common External Tariff. The meeting was a follow-up to the Regional Workshop on the Development of an Informal Trade Regulation Programme in the ECOWAS Region, held in Dakar, Senegal in November 2011.
Participants of the Abuja workshop included representatives of Members States, the regional Chambers of Commerce and Commission officials, including the Director of Trade, Dr. Gbenga Obideyi.
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