ECOWAS, World Bank To Inaugurate Scorecard, To Boost Cross-border Trade

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By Wunmi Ashafa/Funke Ishola

Lagos  –   The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the World Bank Group plan to inaugurate the economic investment climate scorecard, to remove barriers to cross-border trade.

Mr Traore Kalilou, ECOWAS Commissioner for Industry and Private Sector Promotion disclosed this at the opening of a two-day ECOWAS Investment Climate Scorecard Roundtable on Tuesday in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the scorecard is to address a range of investment policy issues.

The scorecard is also an innovative instrument for ECOWAS and policymakers of its member states to address the barriers militating against the private sector across the regions.

Kalilou said the scorecard was targeted at three strategic goals of reducing investment entry barriers, improving investment incentives administration transparency and building capacity for member states in Transfer Pricing regulation.

He said the ECOWAS Investment Climate (IC) would identify investment barriers both nationally and regionally, as well as track the progress of national investment-climate and investment-policy reforms.

The commissioner said that IC would encourage the creation of a transparent and attractive investment climate to enhance private sector-led development in West Africa.

“ECOWAS is committed to implementing programmes that will facilitate regional integration and making it work for private sector operators and the people of West Africa.

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“The IC Scorecard standard benchmark criteria were derived from international good-practices and the balanced approach of the scorecard will encourage national reforms that will foster regional policy harmonisation,” he said.

Ambassador Michel Arrion, Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria, said the project was to support the ECOWAS Commission in its regional integration agenda.

Arion said the objective was to incentivise ECOWAS member states to adhere to the good-practices standard benchmark criteria or indicators by integrating the same into their investment-reform agenda.

“The fact that the European Union is financing this project is a testimony of the commission’s commitment to improving regional private sector competitiveness through the facilitation of trade and investment.

“Our support to improving investment conditions is part of the overall EU priority support to ECOWAS and West Africa.

“This has been ongoing for quite some time and we are committed to continue under our new development cycle which covers 2014-2020,” he said.

Ms Eme Essien, Country Manager, International Finance Corporation (IFC), a subsidiary of the World Bank Group, said the agenda was to establish a strong Regional Public-Private Dialogue (PPD) mechanism.

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Essien said the first PPD forum was initiated through an inaugural technical workshop in Dakar in June 2015, adding that there had been advanced initiatives at the national level.

According to her, a national reform action plan was obtained from six pilot countries of Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone towards the formal commitment to the regional monitoring scorecard.

She said that non-pilot countries had also been invited as observers, to help them prepare for future work.

Essien noted that an expected, the outcome from the roundtable was to get agreement from the six pilot countries on the specific national reforms to be monitored by the scorecard.

“West Africa has enormous potential to strengthen their competitiveness and increase investment flows, which can drive growth, reduce poverty, and deliver jobs to the region.

“The World Bank Group is pleased to be working in partnership with regional organisations, member states, the private sector and development partners.

“This will help these countries unlock investment challenges along key trade corridors, and improve their competitiveness within the global economy,” Essien said.

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