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Oct 28, 2013

ECOWAS Tasks President Mahama to Facilitate Convergence for Common Currency


The Authority of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has tasked President John Mahama to facilitate and monitor the convergence process for the establishment of a common currency in the sub-region.

The Authority was hopeful that the role assigned to President Mahama would speed up the process by countries in the West Africa Monetary Zone (WAMZ) to reach the convergence criteria for the single currency to take off.

The appointment of the President of Ghana was part of measures taken at the Extra-ordinary Session of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in Dakar, Senegal, last Friday, to facilitate the process.

Vice President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, who represented President Mahama at the Summit, said the role entrusted to the President was very critical.

In an interaction with journalists before returning home, the Vice President said the assignment signified the confidence the Authority had in the Ghanaian economy to lead in the process of achieving convergence criteria.

He was confident that President Mahama would effectively deliver on the assignment, and prayed for full co-operation and support from Member States.

In a communiqué issued at the end of the summit, ECOWAS Commission President Kadre Desire Quadraogo, announced that the Authority urged the Commission to take the necessary steps in collaboration with the West African Monetary Agency and West African Monetary Institute to support efforts of Member States in ensuring smooth implementation of the activities of the road map for the ECOWAS single currency.

“To this end the Authority encourages all Member States, particularly those in WAMZ to take all the necessary measures to ensure the required convergence of their macro-economic policies to the establishment of the monetary zone fulfilled,” the communique said.

Touching on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between African, Pacific and Caribbean (ACP) countries and the European Union, the Authority directed the chief negotiators for West Africa to expeditiously resume discussions with their European counterparts with a view of concluding the agreement as soon as possible.

“The Authority calls for the flexibility needed by the two parties in the search for a compromise on all issues in the interest of the two regions,” the Head noted.

According to the communiqué, the Heads took into account the new market access scenario attained by the region, and which considers the required coherence with the Common External Tariff (CET) and development objectives envisaged in the agreement.

“The Authority welcomes the spirit of cooperation between the Commissions of ECOWAS and UEMOA which produced significant outcomes in the analysis of various questions on the deepening of the economic integration process.

“It calls for the strengthening of this cooperation in the implementation of the decisions taken to that effect,” the communiqué said.

With regard to discussion on the CET, the Authority underscored the importance of a customs union as a “decisive and irreversible phase in the process of consolidating the common market.”

“The Authority commends in particular the participatory process that characterised the identification of the major axes of the deepening of the regional market and the flexibility demonstrated by Member States in arriving at a consensus on the final CET structure and all its supporting measures,” it said.

With regard to the Community Integration Levy, the summit stressed the need for uniformity in duties and taxes necessary for the establishment of single community levy at the region's customs corridor.

"The Authority decides to maintain the existing Community Levy in ECOWAS and UEMOA for a transitional period of five years,"the leaders agreed.

Leaders of the sub-regional group present at the summit included Alassane Quattara of Cote d'Ivoire, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali, Mamadou Issoufou of Niger, Thomas Yayi Boni of Benin and Macky Sall of Senegal, Mrs. Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson of Libera, Faure Gnassingbe of Togo, Alpha Conde of Guinea, Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, Manuel Sherifo Nhamajo of Guinea Bissau, Mrs. Ajaratou  Njie-Siady, Vice President of The Gambia and Jose Maria Pereira Neves, Prime Minister of Cape Verde.

Established in 1975, the ECOWAS is the sub-regional grouping of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

Source: GNA