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Business News Tue, 27 Jan 2004

Exporters worried despite ECOWAS protocols

Accra, Jan. 27, GNA - Exporters have expressed disgust at the continued frustrations they faced in their cross-border transactions within the ECOWAS Sub-Region and urged the relevant authorities to take action to regularize the situation.

They blamed customs and border officials especially in Benin, Togo and Nigeria for constant harassment and questioned whether the ECOWAS protocols were still in force.

These sentiments, which had characterized the Ghana Exporters Forum over the last several years, was expressed again at this year's Exporters Forum in Accra on Tuesday.

Present at the Forum was Mr Alan Kyeremanten, Minister of Trade, Industry and Presidential Special Initiatives (PSI's), Mr Collins Boateng, Executive Director of the Ghana Export Promotion Council (GEPC), Dr Gheysika Akambilla, Deputy Minister of Ports, Harbours and Railways and officials of the GEPC.

The exporters met to dilate on matters confronting the industry and how best the export policy is working to make Ghanaian exports reach their target markets as well as to gain full acceptance.

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Ghana's intra-regional export trade stands at about 0.5 per cent. ECOWAS countries have several protocols among which are one of free movement of goods and services and a trade liberalization scheme. However, citizens of the 15-member community have always complained about the mode of applying these rules and schemes. The customs and excise and immigration officials have come under heavy criticism each time about deliberate delays and extortion of money at the various borders come for mention.

Reacting to the concerns, Mr Kyeremanten said government was working hard to reduce and virtually eliminate such barriers as they undermine the efforts of political and governmental leaders to create a level platform for conducting business in the Sub-Region.

He said the Ministry, was among others, focusing on mass mobilization of human resource, especially in the rural areas where more than 60 per cent of the total population lived.

He said government was keen on developing the PSI's and expressed the hope that it would receive the required support.

Mr Kyeremanten mentioned the sale initiative, which, he said, was an area that must be supported to make it successful. He called on exporters to add value to their products to make them not only attractive but also acceptable wherever they are found. .

Source: GNA
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