Business News of 2014-07-22

WAIFEM sub-regional Seminar on trade opens in Accra

A five-day regional seminar to enhance the capacity of officials of member countries of West Africa’s International Trade, Taxes and Policies opened in Accra on Monday.
Organised by West African Institute for Financial Economic and Management (WAIFEM), the seminar is designed to cover key topics such as International Trade Theory, International Trade Policy, and International Trade in West Africa: Challenges and Prospects, Taxes on International Trade and The Challenges of Common External Tariffs.
In his keynote address read on his behalf at the opening session of the workshop, Dr Henry Wampah, Governor of the Bank of Ghana, said there is renewed efforts to enhance the contribution of trade to the economies of West African Countries given the potential benefit of trade in ensuring political, social and economic integration.
Dr Wampah said hindrances at the borders of countries in the sub-region, currency and legal differences, as well as language problems had contributed to West Africa’s failure to benefit fully from trade. “For these trade potentials to be achieved serious attention has to be given to the challenges ranging from complex trade taxes, other barriers to trade, inefficient transport and communication system.”
He said international trade has been hailed as key engine of growth and development, adding that countries that had opened their economies to international trade had gone on to reap enormous benefits.
Dr Wampah said the import within West African sub-region used to be characterised by restrictive licensing systems, high tariffs, escalating or cascading tariff structures, varying degree of import prohibitions and tight foreign exchange. Export was also burdened with implicit and explicit taxes and frequent use of non-tariffs like export prohibition.
Dr Wampah said many West African countries with the support of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund had to embark on a “difficult journey of rationalising and liberalising their trade regimes. “There is this consensus that an efficient trade policy should include trade liberalisation, streamlining imports regimes, reducing bureaucratic bottlenecks, allowing exporters duty-free access to imported inputs,” he added.
Professor Akpan Ekpo, Director General of WAIFEM, said the seminar is important in view of the increasing need to scale up the contribution of trade in countries in the sub-region.
“It is a fact that countries that succeed in trading goods and attracting foreign direct investment and labour, tend to grow faster than those that fail to integrate in the global economy.” He said trade is a powerful source of growth and development through its impact on markets, competition, knowledge dissemination, productivity increases and exposure to new technologies.
Prof Ekpo said the mission of the institute is to develop on a sustainable basis, expertise in the fields of Macroeconomic, Debt and Financial Sector Management among staff of central banks, ministries of finance and economic planning and other public sector bodies with the core economic management responsibilities.
From its inception in 1997 to April 2014, the Institute has executed 485 courses for more than 13,500 participants from the sub-region and beyond. Prof Ekpo said WAIFEM has established the Business Development Unit to make available the Institute's expertise to the private sector in the sub-region.
Source: GNA
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