By Temitope Ponle
ECOWAS has called on member states to domesticate and effectively implement the protocol on the free movement of goods and persons to achieve full integration in the sub-region.
Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, made the call at the opening of the 81stOrdinary Session of the Council of Ministers in Abuja on Friday.
Onyeama said it was the collective responsibility of member states to address unauthorised practices that impeded free movement.
“The path to full integration of our region is still marked by some obstacles that need to be addressed. The free movement of people and goods is challenged with several unauthorised practices. It is therefore our collective responsibility to ensure that at national level, relevant regional protocols are domesticated and effectively implemented.”
The minister further said the session would review the report of the Task Force on the implementation of the free trade protocol with emphasis on the corrective actions recommended.
In his address, the ECOWAS Commission President, Mr Jean-Claude Brou, said the Commission was focused on strengthening and accelerating the implementation of community projects in different areas.
Brou said that he would present the annual Community Report and the session would also consider the report of the Administration and Finance Committee on the 2019 community budget.
“This session is essentially a budget session. In accordance with the usual practice, the Administration and Finance Committee will present the draft budget for the year 2019. I will have the opportunity to give you an overview of the evolution of the main political, social, economic and human indicators of the region. Emphasis will be placed on questions concerning our pattern of trade liberalisation, the foundation of our common market.”
He added that the recommendations of the session would be presented to the Summit of the Authority of the Heads of State and Government expected to hold on Dec. 22, 2018.