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Trade bodies urged to leverage digitalisation

BY: Ama Amankwah Baafi
Dr Afua Asabea Asare (seated 3rd from left), CEO of GEPA; Pamela Coke-Hamilton (seated 3rd from right), Executive Director of ITC, and Dr Ezra Yakusak (seated 4th from right), President of ECOWAS TPO Network, with others after the meeting
Dr Afua Asabea Asare (seated 3rd from left), CEO of GEPA; Pamela Coke-Hamilton (seated 3rd from right), Executive Director of ITC, and Dr Ezra Yakusak (seated 4th from right), President of ECOWAS TPO Network, with others after the meeting

Trade promotion organisations (TPOs) have been urged to leverage digitalisation to boost trading across the world.

The organisations have also been charged to work hard to increase trade flows to ensure sustainable growth and development.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), Dr Afua Asabea Asare, said the world could not wait for the current overlapping global crises of war and COVID-19 and their attendant disequilibrium to simmer down before taking action.

She said the current exposure of economies to the vagaries of the external environment must, therefore, serve as a turning point in trading dynamics.

“We must get to a point where value chain actors in the region, through the power of demand and supply, can easily locate each other to strike business deals without the hustle of moving round and round,” she said during the second annual general meeting of the ECOWAS Trade Promotion Organisation (ETPO) network in Accra.

She said digitalisation had been a positive outcome of the pandemic and urged members of the network to consider it as a fulcrum to boost trade.

Economic integration

The ETPO network is a public sector-led entity that works in partnership with the ECOWAS Commission to drive inclusive trade development initiatives within West Africa and beyond.

It operates under the platform of the West African Competitiveness Programme (WACOMP), funded by the European Union (EU), with the International Trade Centre (ITC) as a technical partner.

The two-day meeting was to review the progress of the network and to collectively define strategies and implementation towards the realisation of its goals and objectives.

The President of the ETPO, Dr Ezra Yakusak, said the meeting provided members with a unique opportunity to remain resolute in the quest for economic integration.

“We should, therefore, focus on how to position the network to play a pivotal role in galvanising our members to explore and benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) through various instrumentalities of trade.

“The region should form a formidable force to take advantage of this largest single African market with over $500 billion in trade,” he said.

The Executive Director of the ITC, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, noted that as the world desperately pursued economic recovery and adapted after COVID-19, the critical role of trade and multilateralism remained undisputed.

“Multilateralism, however, builds on a strong regional agenda, and TPO networks are a critical part of the structure. The ECOWAS TPO network is, therefore, essential for ECOWAS efforts to build a stronger regional economy which will provide a springboard for a successful participation in the AfCFTA,” she said.

She said the private sector remained the primary engine of growth in every economy, hence the need for the ECOWAS TPO network to amplify the voices of businesses across West Africa.