By Moses Nosike
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called for a review on the state of economic integration in our subregion and identify the challenges and proffer solutions, especially from the private sector perspective. This was said in Lagos at the stakeholders forum on Business Opportunities in ECOWAS.
In his address, the President of the LCCI, Asiwaju Solomon Kayode Onafowokan, OON, said the forum is an excellent platform to discuss the important issues of economic integration ofÂ the West African subregion from private sector perspectives.
He said further that itâ€™s an uncommon private sector initiative which deserves all the supportÂ thatÂ can beÂ given, saying that for too long, private sector organizations and institutions have confined themselves to the comfort of their individual countries, while their counterparts in other parts of the world are advancing the frontiers of their economies and markets through integration.
Mr. Onafowokan stressed that â€œin these daysÂ of globalization, this individualistic disposition and outlook may not be sustainable and we need to broaden our perspectives and thinking beyond our individual countries. We should begin to develop not only regional, but also continental and global outlook for our businesses and economies.â€
Speaking further he said thatÂ with a robust market of over 250 million people, significant benefits of economies of scale would be enjoyedÂ by businesses in ECOWAS sub-region in the event of full market integration. â€œThis would lower unit costs and enhance our competitiveness. Integration is in fact the main vehicle for the boosting of trade within the subregion. With integration, our economies would be stronger and their capacity to cope with the challenges of globalization would be enhancedâ€.
He also said that ECOWAS has done more promoting regional peacekeeping, security and conflict management than in promoting economic integration which is its core mandate.
According to him, â€œthe ECOWAS trade Liberalisation Treaty contains excellent provisions to develop and promote trade within the West African subregion but progress has been rather slow and impeded by a number of factors:- political factor which involves lack of desired political will to implement treaties and drive the integration process, reluctance to surrender, even partially sovereignty and economic nationalism, the quality of political governance and corruption .
He added that economic factors such as inadequate inclusion of the private sector in the preparation and implementation ofÂ integration treaties as problemsÂ militating against business in ECOWAS countries .