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ECOWAS and MTI train National Coordinating Committee on trade

ECOWAS and MTI train National Coordinating Committee on trade

The Economic Committee of West African States (ECOWAS) Trade Negotiation Capacity Building Project in collaboration with the Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Trade and Industry organized a capacity building workshop on International Trade Negotiation for members of the National Coordinating Committee on Trade (NCCT), Sierra Leone. The five days training workshop which kicked off  Monday 5th May 2014 at the Bintumani Hotel Conference Hall in Freetown and will end on Friday 9th May 2014. The objectives of the training and capacity building workshop is to provide a wide range of knowledge and skills that could be essential in understanding the multilateral trading system in general and regional integration in particular. The training is expected to address issues like: Regional Integration: theory and practice; ensuring coherence and synergy between the ECOWAS Trade Negotiation Capacity Building and other trade support programmes in the Ministry; strategic objectives of ECOWAS integration; basic principles of trade negotiation; the ECOWAS trade liberalization scheme: background, objectives and implementation status in Sierra Leone; the ECOWAS Common External Tariff, structure of the negotiation and potential implications for Sierra Leone; and aid for trade.   (Photo: Dr. Ametitovi Folli Francois and Trade Minister, Alhaji Usman Boie Kamara)

The day is said to have marked a milestone as far as trade development is concern in Sierra Leone as it is line with the Government’s Agenda for Prosperity. The training workshop came at a time when Sierra Leone looks forward to the implementation of key national policy documents and programmes including: the conclusion of the Development friendly Economic Partnership Agreement; the implementation of the recommendations of the Administrative barriers to Investment Report to reform the business environment; and implementation of the 2013 Diagnostic Trade Integration Study Update Action Matrix as well as Medium Term Programme that will be derived from the matrix.

Dr. Ametitovi Folli Francois is a Consultant and Trainer for the Trade Negotiation Capacity Building Project (TNCB). He commended the Trade Minister and his team for organizing the workshop that will serve as a tool necessary for regional integration. The Training Workshop, he said provides the framework professional experts, build human capacity and reduces poverty. “Regulation and finance are very important tools for international trade negotiations,” he said, adding that he expected that the workshop will contribute to the promotion of regional action on trade negotiation in consultation with various interested groups that should be taken into account. “The Workshop is to ensure that trade negotiation benefits member states,” Dr. Francois said.

Alhaji Usman Boie Kamara is Sierra Leone’s Minister of Trade and Industry.  He said in his keynote address that after a critical look at trade policy decision making structures and processes in the sub-region, his Ministry in 2004 requested Cabinet to approve the establishment of a national institution with a mandate to brainstorm on policy issues to ensure policy synergy on trade-related issues while taken full cognizance on the country’s domestic, regional and international commitments amongst others.

The Minister said this brought about the establishment of the National Coordinating Committee on Trade (NCCT) with a membership drawn from twenty-three State and Non-state institutions.

Since its establishment, the first major step undertaken by the Committee was the successful completion of Sierra Leone’s first Trade Policy Clinic and Review with the World Trade Organization (WTO); and also NCCT effectively participated in trade-related diagnostic studies including, the removal of the administrative barriers to investment and the Diagnostic Trade Integration Studies.

Abdul Kamara is the Enhanced Integrated Framework Coordinator in the Trade Ministry. He informed participants that the government lays much premium on trade, which is why it provided two pillars in the Agenda for Prosperity that clearly map out the way for trade development. They include: Pillar One – economic diversification; and Pillar four – International Competitiveness. He noted that the training will ensure that Trade Negotiation serves as a hallmark for development within member states.

Mr. Kamara admonished Stakeholders to treat the workshop with all seriousness so that trade can be the engine for economic growth in Sierra Leone and meet its challenges faced globally.

The Government of Sierra Leone, he said is committed in promoting trade, which is why the Trade Minister has been giving the opportunity to International Experts to share their experiences with Sierra Leone and build the capacity of the relevant stakeholders.

Abu Bakarr Kargbo

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