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Trade promotion organisations urged to leverage digitilisation

BY: Ama Amankwah Baafi
Dr Ezra Yakusak (1st from left) President of ECOWAS TPO Network, Dr Afua Asabea Asare (2nd from left) CEO of GEPA, Pamela Coke-Hamilton (3rd from right) Executive Director of ITC, Tim Dolan (1st from right) Team leader, Trade and Macroeconomic at Delegation of EU and Kolawole Sofola (2nd from right) Acting Director, Trade Directorate at ECOWAS Commission during the meeting
Dr Ezra Yakusak (1st from left) President of ECOWAS TPO Network, Dr Afua Asabea Asare (2nd from left) CEO of GEPA, Pamela Coke-Hamilton (3rd from right) Executive Director of ITC, Tim Dolan (1st from right) Team leader, Trade and Macroeconomic at Delegation of EU and Kolawole Sofola (2nd from right) Acting Director, Trade Directorate at ECOWAS Commission during the meeting

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

The organisations were also 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, who gave the advice 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.

Therefore, she said the current exposure of economies to the vagaries of the external environment must 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 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Trade Promotion Organisation (ETPO) Network in Accra.

She said that digitilisation had been a positive outcome of the pandemic and so, members of the network should consider it as a fulcrum for deployment to boost trade.

She mentioned that GEPA has set up the IMPACT Hub as an example of physical information technology space that provides multiple support programmes to exporters.

“As leaders, we cannot continue to do the same things and expect different results. This network should pursue programs and projects that engender significant transformations in the lives of our people. It should be the conduit and the platform on which business partnerships and synergies are created and deployed,” she said.


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 Europenan Union (EU), with the ITC as a technical partner.

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

The President of the ECOWAS TPO, Dr Ezra Yakusak, said the meeting provided members with a unique opportunity to remain resolute in our 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 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.

Speaking at the event, the Executive Director of the ITC, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, noted that as the world desperately pursues economic recovery and adapts after COVID-19, the critical role of trade and multilateralism remains 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 that the private sector remained the primary engine for growth in every economy.

Thus, she said the need for the ECOWAS TPO network to amplify the voices of businesses across West Africa.

“The power and the autonomy of the platform relies on its ability to take ownership in the mobilisation of resources necessary to activate businesses innovation. That success must therefore be founded on the support made available to small and medium enterprises to the development of innovative products and instruments targeted at boosting their competitiveness and facilitating market access,” she said.