By MUHAMMED S. BAH
The President of West Africa Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI), Mr. Bai Mattarr Drammeh has said that the free movement of people is coupled with protocols that facilitate the free movement of goods.
Mr. Drammeh said this during his deliberation at a one day sensitisation forum held at the GCCI Kerr Jula Complex at Bijilo.He also noted that the Railway master plan of ECOWAS is under study, which when completed will further open access to markets all over the continent and beyond.
Mr. Drammeh also said that the movement of people and their access to markets in a regional economic integration process is not facilitated only through physical infrastructure but also through harmonisation of travel documents.
“Thanks to the abolition of visas among member countries and the introduction of the ECOWAS passport, the region has become one of the most integrated when it comes to movement of people,” he remarked.
According to Mr. Drammeh, the heads of state adopted the ECOWAS biometric identity card at the recent summit in December 2015 which will allow citizens to travel in 15 member countries by road, air or sea with their ID cards and establish wherever they wish to.
“That has been an advocacy agenda for a long time at FEWACCI, because we believed that requesting ECOWAS citizens to get a residence permit before they can establish in a member-state was not going to promote cross-border trade and investment,” he stressed.
The FEWACCI noted that the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) has come into effect in January 2015, making the ECOWAS region a custom union.
“That means goods imported from third countries can move freely within the region once they pay duty in the country of entry into the ECOWAS territory,” he explained.
Mr. Drammeh noted that raw materials of ECOWAS origin can move freely within the region duty-free, quota-free.