The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) has launched the ECOWAS Trade Promotion Organisations (TPO) Network.
The body’s first Annual General Assembly was held yesterday in Abuja. It was chaired by its president, Mr Segun Awolowo.
The TPO Network is a public-sector led entity and will partner with the ECOWAS Commission to drive inclusive trade development initiatives within West Africa and beyond.
ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement Tei Konzi, while inaugurating the body on behalf of the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean Claude Kassi Brou, said trade promotion organisations were important in accessing new markets and establishing linkages between local and international businesses.
The International Trade Centre Executive Director, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, said West Africa had achieved a milestone with the establishment of the ECOWAS TPO Network.
“As a network, you can learn from each other, support growth into each other’s markets, invest in shared information assets, and amplify the voice of TPOs and the private sector as champions of the Africa of tomorrow,” said Ms. Coke-Hamilton.
The Head of Cooperation of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms. Cicile Tassin-Pelzer, said the flagship of the West African Competitiveness Programme has brought together public and private sectors stakeholders across the region to strengthen competitiveness and enhance the level of production, transformation and export capacities of the Private Sectors.
Awolowo, who is also the Executive Director/CEO of the Nigeria Export Promotion Council, said this was the first of many steps towards building mutual trust and cooperation without borders in the ECOWAS region.
“As of today intra-Africa exports only accounts for about 16% of Africa’s global export, and more specifically intra-ECOWAS trade only accounts for a tenth of ECOWAS countries’ global trade. Indeed, more must be done to increase the volume of trade within the ECOWAS region and more importantly between ECOWAS and the rest of Africa.
“It is therefore imperative that through the TPO network we work assiduously towards facilitating the ease of trade for our MSMEs within the ECOWAS region and Africa at large, thereby building an army of exporters that will boost intra Africa trade. If soundly operationalized, this new mechanism of TPO Network should help a great deal in boosting trade among ECOWAS member states. Consequently, economic integration in the sub-region will be further deepened,” Awolowo said.