The second team of the Trade Liberalisation Scheme Task Force (ETLS/TF) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was officially inaugurated this Tuesday, 14 December 2021, at the Presidential Palace, in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso by H.E. Roch Marc Christian Kabore, President of Faso and Champion of the free movement of persons and goods in the ECOWAS region.
Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the new Head of the Task Force and six other prominent figures were officially inaugurated during a colourful ceremony attended by an ECOWAS delegation led by H.E. Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President of the Commission, and Mr Tei Konzi, Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement, Mr Salifou Tiemtore, Director of Customs Union and Taxation, Mr Anthony Luka, Acting Director, Private Sector. Also present were officials and members of the Government of Burkina Faso, as well as many guests.
Speaking at this solemn ceremony, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr Jean Claude Kassi Brou, commended the quality of the selection of the new ECOWAS TLS/TF team members, especially the selection of the new Head, Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, former President of the ECOWAS Commission and former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel. President Brou thanked the team members for accepting this difficult but noble task.
President Brou also stated that the free movement of persons and the Intra-Community Trade Liberalisation Scheme are major achievements of the ECOWAS regional integration process, while recognising their fragility due to several obstacles, including (i) the persistent fragmentation of trade and monetary policies, (ii) security problems, (iii) flaws in the control administrations, (iv) the refusal of some member states to grant other member states the benefits of the Scheme, (v) lack of information for stakeholders on Community provisions on regional trade, (vi) establishment of tariff and non-tariff barriers that deliberately slow down the movement of goods originating in the region, (vii) the propensity of some member states to take measures to ban the export of food and cereal products during food crises, and finally, the increasing number of checkpoints along the corridors.
“As you carry out your duties, I urge you to always strengthen the regional integration process in West Africa and, in particular, to ensure the effective and uniform application of ECOWAS community texts relating to TLS by all Member States. I have no doubt that you will apply your rich experience to the success of this noble task,” said H.E Jean Claude Kassi Brou to the seven members of the team.
In his address, the President of Faso, H.E. Roch Marc Christian Kabore, noted that despite the efforts made and the actions undertaken, the free movement of persons and goods is struggling to become a reality because of the many barriers it faces. “The example of this is the trafficking and other abnormal practices observed in the countries and at the borders of the Community. This situation has been exacerbated by the security and health challenges facing the sub-region,” said the President of Faso.
President Kaboré stated in his speech that he was “particularly pleased with the holding of this inauguration ceremony which will enable the members of the incoming team to continue and strengthen the efforts already made in terms of free movement of persons and goods by the outgoing team under the visionary leadership of President Salou Djibo, former Head of State of Niger.”
The Champion of the free movement of persons and goods in the ECOWAS region, H.E. Roch Marc Christian Kaboré concluded his speech by saying “… I will do everything possible to support the ECOWAS Commission and all the structures in charge of promoting integration in the implementation of any initiative on free movement and the establishment of a common market.”
Finally, it should be noted that during the ceremony, the seven new members of the ETLS/TF Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Kalou Doua Bi, Sola Afolabi, Malamin Sanyang, Djobo Kpandi, Hamid Ahmed and Justin Bayili, were officially presented to the President of Faso by Commissioner Tei Konzi and received their engagement letters from President Brou. Certificates of recognition were also issued to the members of the outgoing Task Force and particularly to its Chairman, General Salou Djibou, former Head of State of Niger, in recognition of the exceptional services rendered to the Community in the promotion of the free movement of persons and goods in the ECOWAS region.