Jan. 29, GNA “ A three-day conference to improve food security and free
movement of goods and services through regional trade in West Africa has opened
in Accra on Tuesday.
The objective of the conference was to jump-start the actions needed to unleash the full potential of regional trade to help safeguard the region™s food security in the future.
The three-day conference for civil societies, governments, technical partners and private institutions in West Africa is on the theme: śFood Across Borders: Improving Food Security through Regional Trade in West Africa.ť
Mr Salifou Tiemtore, Director of Customs, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), said there were many barriers to free movement of goods including lack of understanding of legislation, high tariffs and non-compliance with products.
He said a lot of countries within ECOWAS were refusing to implement the ECOWAS regulations, saying śthe lack of regional trade policy within the sub-region is also a challengeť.
He said ECOWAS was creating a platform for dialoguing with member states, while training stakeholders on ongoing agricultural legislation.
Dr Seydou Sidibe, Deputy Chief of Party USAID ATP Projects, said constraints to regional trade in West Africa included road harassment, export restrictions, certificate of origin and Value Added Tax.
He called on the participants to deliberate on challenges confronting free movement of goods and services in the region to be addressed by policy makers.
Dr Marc Atouga, ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resource, said the constraints to free movement were complex which involves many actors and takes place at different levels.
He said food security and economic growth, two keystones of resilience, would be realized only if the many constraints to free movement of the region™s staple commodities were lifted.
śProducers must be able to take advantage of markets across borders, customers must be able to purchase food transported efficiently and at low costť, he said.
The event organized by USAID and ECOWAS is scheduled to end on January 31.