Borderless Alliance fingers non-harmonization of cereals to ECOWAS standard as a major challenge to regional trade   

L-R: Advocacy Programme Adviser, Borderless Alliance; Mrs Afua Eshun, Director General, African Centre for Supply Chain;  Dr Obiora Madu, Director, Consumer Affairs, Nigerian Shippers Council; Chief Cajatan Agu, Executive Secretary, Borderless Alliance; Mr Justin Bayili, at a one day workshop for the Dissemination and Launch of ECOWAS Trade Liberalization scheme (ETLS) Handbook for Cross-Border Trade in Lagos last week.

One of the promoters of the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS);  Borderless Alliance has identified   non-harmonization of standards of   all cereals, such as maize, cassava, sorghum and millet into ECOWAS standard as one of the major challenges facing regional trade.

The Advocacy Programme Advisor at the Borderless Alliance Secretariat, Afua Eshun, said this last week during the launch of the ETLS handbook in Lagos.

Explaining further, she said that in the absence of such standard and in line with intra community trade, a member state may be called upon to draw up a national standard.

She however maintained that a member state may be tempted to introduce standards leading to keeping an activity or sector for local companies.

“Either these standards are too restrictive or they impose formalities, such that potential exporters are discouraged in their desire to enter into this market. On the other hand in the absence of standards, especially for everyday consumer products the health of the population may be jeopardized”, she noted.

Eshun also said that the non-implementation of the Inter-State Road Transport Convention (ISRT) which deals with the technical standard and conditions to participate in inter-state road transport of goods also poses a very big challenge to the ETSL.

She advised on the need for the operationalization of the existing Joint Border Posts (JBP) and building of new ones whenever need be as one of the steps towards addressing some of these challenges.

“There is also need for interconnection of national customs administration’s  IT systems to secure the entire chain of information and to have a centralized database accessible to all member states”, she concluded.