Business News of Wednesday, 24 June 2009
From Benjamin Mensah, GNA Special Correspondent, Abuja, Nigeria
Abuja, June 24, GNA- Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), on Monday agreed that La Cote d'Ivoire should organise the 3rd Business Forum and the sixth ECOWAS Trade Fair simultaneously in November 2010.
They directed that the two events should constitute landmark events for the business enterprise community and international investors. The leaders gave the approval at the end of the 36th summit of the Authority of Heads of State and Government in Abuja, Nigeria, on Monday, which was attended by Ghanaian President, Professor John Evans Atta Mills.
They specifically called on Member States to ensure the effective application of the ECOWAS Protocols on the Free Movement of Persons and Right of Residence and to put an end to all forms of harassment along the corridors and borders.
The Authority noted the overwhelming participation in the various investment fora and the establishment of strategic business partnerships with their counterparts from China and the European Union and urged them to move forward with those initiatives. The leaders welcomed the mobilisation of business entrepreneurs in the region so that they could be constituted into a true community of economic entrepreneurs capable of harnessing the enormous potentials of the region.
To guarantee th e consolidation of common market, the Authority urged the ECOWAS Commission, to speed up discussions on the methodology to determine what products would fall within the Fifth Band of the 35 per cent that related to the ECOWAS Common External Tariff. On energy and transport, the leaders endorsed the creation of a Transport and Energy Development Fund, which would be financed from the proceeds of a levy on income generated by trade in the major products of the region.
They consequently directed the ECOWAS Commission to work closely with the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development and the Project Preparation and Development Unit, to present modalities for the establishment of the Regional Infrastructure Fund. With the view to improve air transport services in the region, the Heads of State and Government decided to accelerate the implementation of the Yamoussoukro Agreement on the Liberalisation of Air Transport. They directed that an annual meeting of directors general of Civil Aviation and managing directors of airlines serving the ECOWAS region should be institutionalised and called on the airport authorities to issue technical certificates needed for the establishment of airline companies.
The ECOWAS leaders renewed their commitment to the development of the agricultural sector and called on the Commission and member states to start the process for the preparation of national and regional agricultural investment programmes.
The Authority also adopted the Plan of Action on the fight against drug trafficking, organised crime and drug abuse in West Africa and called on development partners for support.
On institutional issues, the summit enshrined the decision of the Community to support the candidacy of Mr Chile- Eboe-Osuji, a Nigerian for the position of judge at the International Criminal Court. The leaders reiterated their acceptance of the principle of rotation of the non permanent seat amongst West African countries, and took note of the compromise reached between Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo to the effect that Sierra Leone and Togo should withdraw their candidature respectively in favour of Nigeria on the understanding that the next rotation would be the turn of Togo.