FOR the West African sub-region to be fully incorporated into the world economy, regional integration and a more vibrant intra-regional trade relationship among the countries must be in place.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) which disclosed this during the week at the meeting of the Regional Steering Committee (RSC) of the West Africa Quality Programme (WAQP) in Abuja noted that the percentage of regional trade from the total volume of international trade was discouraging.
According to the UNIDO Representative and Regional Officer Mr. Patrick Kormawa, the developed countries of the world concentrate much of the trade exchange within themselves so as to foster regional integration and development.
“The European Union, just to show how important trade brings countries together, you find out that more than 70 per cent of their trade is within the region. If you look at North America, that is USA and Canada, about 30 per cent is within their region, developing Asia about 47 to 50 per cent of their trade and in Latin America we are looking at 48 per cent is within their region,” he said.
Kormawa, however, lamented that “ when you come to the West African region we are talking about 10 per cent, which means we need more efforts to ensure that we promote trade within our sub-region and quality standard certification and the rest of the issues that are needed.”
He said it was achievable if “product quality and standard that meet all international standards” were produced, considering all the benchmarks that would make for international requirements.
“As a body we believe that trade is a major promoter of integration of countries in the global economy. It is a driver in the fight against poverty and of course, job creation, which forms the pinnacle for the economic policies in the different countries within the sub region. Integration will happen when trade within the region is going on in a perfect condition.”
The Representative of the European Union (EU), Mr. Manuel Inglesis said the programme was intended to be beneficial to the citizens of the West African sub-region as it would boost the export profile of the countries and the economy of the sub-region, while encouraging healthy competitive trade with other sub-regions in Africa and the world at large.
The meeting, which drew about 80 participants from within West Africa, was intended to update stakeholders on the roadmap of a regional quality infrastructure and quality policy in the region. It would provide the opportunity for the review of the successes recorded in the implementation of the programme in the 16 participating countries.