By John Okeke
The Committee of Experts set up by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for Transport, Logistics, Free Movement and Trade in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, held a virtual meeting on the 8th of June 2020 to firm up guidelines for the harmonization and facilitation of Cross Border Trade and Transportation in the region.
The experts are providing sectorial technical advice to the statutory decision-making bodies of ECOWAS to ensure uniform and coordinated improvement of the transport and logistics sectors while enhancing the growth of intra-regional trade, free movement and economic growth in the ECOWAS region.
Addressing participants, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Infrastructure Mr. Pathe Gueye said besides the coordination and strengthening of the fight against the Covid-19, the meeting is meant to help the region to navigate itself out of the difficult situation where it now finds itself.
Chair of the meeting and representative of Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation and Chairman of the meeting, Captain Musa Nuhu stressed the importance of finding the balance between the health well-being and economic well-being of Community citizens by ECOWAS Member States while achieving desired synergy in handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
The proposed guidelines for the harmonization and facilitation of cross-border trade and transportation are in line with the West Africa Health Organization (WAHO) and other specialized international organizations such as World Health Organization (WHO), World Customs Organization (WCO), International Migration Organization, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Maritime Organisation (IMO), African Union Commission, Africa Civil Aviation Council, and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) among others.
Among others, the experts are expected to identify appropriate trade and transport humanitarian corridors and propose measures to ensure these corridors are open for medical supplies and personnel so that the fight against Covid-19 is efficient in the short medium term while ensuring continuity in community trade, transport, free movement and cross border businesses in the medium to long term.
The recommendations and the proposed guidelines from the Experts will be submitted to the ECOWAS Ministers in charge of Transport and Trade who meet on 12th of June 2020 for validation.