Trade volume among ECOWAS member states stands at a low 10 percent compared to over 90% trade with other foreign countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas.
However many observers argue that the main hindrance to trade among the member states is the customs barriers at each country’s border with calls for barriers to be removed completely.
Calls for the relaxing of the trade barriers have necessitated a 2 day dialogue session of the ECOWAS parliament on how best to deal with the challenges of border crossing and opportunities for Trade and Finance among the 16 states.
Speaking at the opening day of the session, the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Senator Ike Ekweremadu noted that the removal of the various trade barriers was important as more economic opportunities exist in trade among countries in the sub region.
Senator Ekweremadu also called for an effective policing of borders of ECOWAS countries.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hanna Serwaa Tetteh adding her voice to calls for the removal of trade barriers and other constraints in order to ensure a meaningful and productive regional trade said the situation was impacting negatively on individuals and on the collective socio-economic development of ECOWAS member states as the abundant resources were transferred to the developed world to further develop their economies.
The Executive Secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation, the organizers of the dialogue, Professor Emmanuel Nnadozie urged the ECOWAS parliamentarians to push for a greater regional integration.
Touching on the controversial Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and countries in the developing world, Professor Nnadozie called for wider consultations in order to get the best deal for the 16 member states.