Business News of 2014-07-11

ECOWAS endorses EPA

West African leaders yesterday wrapped up the 45th Ordinary Session of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with a decisive approval of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

In a communique issued at the end of the meeting in Accra, the ECOWAS leaders said "the Heads of State and Government decisively approve the EPA negotiated and take due account of the technical concerns raised".

The Heads of State, therefore, instructed the West African Chief Negotiator to take appropriate steps to begin the process of signing and implementing the agreement.

Following from this, the summit stressed the need for sustained education to create the necessary awareness among the people.

It described the agreement reached as fair, balanced and mutually beneficial to ECOWAS and the European Union (EU).

It welcomed the ad hoc committee set up at the last ECOWAS meeting to consider the technical issues raised by some member states and whose recommendations led to solutions to the issues.

Resident permits

The communiqué said ECOWAS also approved the abolition of resident permits and in their place introduced biometric identity cards for its citizens.

It said ministers in charge of security in member countries had been tasked to review all the necessary implications of the measures awaiting the signing of the supplementary acts.

The authority encouraged member states to sustain the initiatives in order to boost the regional economic integration and economic performance.

It also tasked the ECOWAS Commission to work with other stakeholders to meet the implementation deadlines.

Single currency

On the ECOWAS single currency, the summit endorsed recommendations on the convergence criteria, the strengthening of the institutions and the revised road map.

The communique took note of the progress made in the political situation in Guinea Bissau which led to the election and swearing-in of a new President, as well as the consolidation of peace and security in other member states.

It expressed sympathy with Nigeria over the Boko Haram issue and noted that ECOWAS would continue to support Nigeria to uproot the problem.

The authority directed the ECOWAS Commission to liaise with the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) to adopt a regional approach towards containing and managing the outbreak of the Ebola disease.

The authority further directed that a solidarity fund be established to fight the disease.

Nigeria was commended for contributing $3 million to be shared among Guinea ($1 million), Liberia ($500,000), Sierra Leone ($500,000), WAHO ($500,000) and the ECOWAS Pool Fund for Ebola ($1 million).

The summit urged other member states to make similar contributions.

Sectoral policies

The summit, among other things, reaffirmed its decision to work at attaining food security, develop infrastructure and advance human development.

The Heads of State were full of praise for President John Dramani Mahama, who is the current Chairman of ECOWAS, for his extraordinary efforts at regional integration and his commitment to enrich democracy and good governance in West Africa.

In his closing remarks, President Mahama hailed his colleagues for the efforts and support to advance the cause of the sub-region.

Source: graphic.com.gh
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