Business News of 2014-06-15

Private sector must support ECOWAS integration

The President of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Mr James Asare-Adjei, has urged all private sector players to help make the regional integration initiative within ECOWAS a reality.

He said ECOWAS was running out of time in its quest to become a borderless region to enhance the free movement of goods and people, particularly at the time when the region was in negotiation with the European Union (EU) on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).

Mr Asare-Adjei made the call when the association undertook a working visit to Brussels under the AGI-BDI partnership project for policy advocacy between May 31 and June 7, 2014.

During the visit, the delegation, led by Mr Asare-Adjei, held an intensive engagement on the operation of the EU’s single market with the view to gaining more insights to advance the private sector’s advocacy drive on regional integration within ECOWAS.

Brussels is a strategic base for most foreign missions because of its proximity to the EU institutions.

It also hosts the official seats of the EU including the European Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament.

At the European Parliament, the AGI delegation was taken through the processes of the passage of legislation involving the European Council, the EU Parliament and the council including their lobbying initiatives.

The AGI delegation also paid a courtesy call on Ghana’s ambassador responsible for Belgium, Luxemburg and Mission to the EU, Mr Morgan A. Brown and his team.

The discussions held during the call explored business prospects between the Ghanaian private sector and the Belgian business community with the Ghana embassy as the key facilitator and AGI as a window for investors to Ghana, while supporting government initiatives to expand trade with Europe.

The AGI president also seized the opportunity to brief Ghana’s mission in Brussels on some of the activities being undertaken by the association to complement the government’s efforts to improve macro-economic stability within the Ghanaian economy.

Working sessions were also held with the European Commission, BusinessEurope, the Free State of Bavaria at the EU, the work of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, all intended to strengthen AGI’s policy dialogue process for regional integration of ECOWAS.

Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) deliberations, which have often ended in limbo across some regional frontiers concluded the delegation’s mission in Brussels.

During the final working session with officials of the European Commission, AGI took turns to explain reasons for the uncertainty on the subject in Ghana and indicated the need for further deliberations to ensure an informed decision.

The Chief Executive Officer of AGI, Mr Seth Twum-Akwaboah, for his part, described the trip as successful considering the insights gained on regional integration and the building of essential business ties at the private sector level, along with opportunities for business matching and networking.