Launch and First Meeting of the ECOWAS Regional Trade Facilitation Committee (ERTFC).04 Mar, 2022
The ECOWAS Commission, with the support of the Trade Facilitation West Africa (TFWA) Programme, organised the launch of the ECOWAS Regional Trade Facilitation Committee (ERTFC) on 21 February 2022 in Lomé, Togo.
The launching ceremony, which was moderated by Mr Kolawole Sofola, Acting Director of Trade, featured addresses by H.E. Kodjo Adedze, Togo’s Minister for Trade, Industry and Local Consumption; Mr Tei Konzi, ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement of Persons; and Ms Barbara Rippel, Head of the GIZ TFWA Programme.
In his address, Minister Kodjo Adedze, on behalf of H.E. Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe, President of the Togolese Republic, welcomed participants to the historic launch and inaugural meeting of the ECOWAS RTFC. He stressed the importance of the ECOWAS RTFC in providing advice and support for the implementation of trade facilitation initiatives in the region. He concluded by launching the ECOWAS Regional Trade Facilitation Committee and urging its members to work towards simplifying exports, imports, and transit procedures within and outside the region.
On behalf of H.E. Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Commissioner Tei Konzi recalled that the creation of the ECOWAS RTFC by Decision C/DEC.1/6/21 taken by the ECOWAS Council of Ministers in June 2022, aims at facilitating the movement of goods within ECOWAS Member States. He stressed that to achieve this objective, it is necessary to establish a very strong collaboration between economic operators and government institutions such as ministries in charge of trade administration and customs.
On behalf of Ms Barbara Rippel, Mr Kelechi Okoro, representing GIZ, welcomed the participants and thanked the ECOWAS Commission for its efforts in assisting Member States to implement trade facilitation reforms. He reiterated the commitment of the Trade Facilitation West Africa (TFWA) Programme to assist ECOWAS in facilitating the movement of goods in the region.
The first meeting of the Committee, held on 21 and 23 February 2022 and chaired by Mr Kyeremeh Yeboa of the Republic of Ghana, reviewed strategic regional trade facilitation initiatives, and adopted a work programme. At the end of the meeting, participants thanked the host country for the excellent services provided to organise the event and commended the ECOWAS Commission and its partners for the implementation of trade facilitation initiatives and the ongoing development of new instruments such as the regional trade and transport facilitation strategy.
As part of the event, the members of the Committee, led by Commissioner Tei Konzi, visited the autonomous Port of Lomé on 23 February 2022. They availed themselves of the opportunity to appreciate the modern facilities and the digital system put in place in Lomé to improve the flow of goods.
The operationalisation of the ECOWAS RTFC marks a turning point in the implementation of the measures contained in the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, also known as the BALI Agreement. The Regional Committee, which is an umbrella for the national committees, is a lever that will make our Community market a market of free movement of goods.