Ms Hannah Serwaa Tetteh, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration on Thursday appealed to members of the ECOWAS Parliament to set aside their ideologies and emotions when discussing the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union.
She noted that a lot of ECOWAS countries believed everything from the EU was detrimental to them due to colonial experiences.
Speaking at the opening of a two day dialogue session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Accra, the Foreign Affairs Minister noted that although ECOWAS had been in existence for about 40 years, it had not achieved much to show for.
She added that although one of the main focuses of ECOWAS was trade among its members, not much had been achieved due to lack of proper structures.
“Without the introduction of the EPA, we were already killing ourselves economically due to challenges people face at our borders before they could trade,” she added.
She expressed dissatisfaction with the number of days goods are delayed at the borders before being transported to their destinations.
Ms Tetteh said it was sad that after 40 years, the ECOWAS Joint Border Posts is still being sponsored by the EU.
She cited free trade areas, the adoption of a common currency and the formation of a unionized customs as some of the measures that could boost the ECOWAS integration agenda.
Senator Ike Ekweramadu, Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, said it was shameful that about 90 per cent of goods produced by ECOWAS countries found their way to the European, American and the Asian markets while trade among member countries was estimated at about 6.8 percent.
He called for an end to the numerous bribery activities among uniformed officials who worked at ECOWAS country borders as their acts were compounding the economic hardship of traders.
He called for effective border patrols to deter rebels from extending their activities to other countries.
The ECOWAS parliamentary dialogue session was organized by the National Institute for legislative Studies (NILS), a capacity building institute based in Nigeria, in collaboration with the Africa Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), Zimbabwe and the ECOWAS parliament.
The dialogue was to deliberate on challenges of border crossing among member countries and opportunities for trade and finance for ECOWAS countries.
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