The first Technical Working Group meeting for the ECOWAS Trade Information System (ECOTIS) held virtually on the 12th of February, 2021.
The trade information system is meant among others, to readily make information on trade related issues available to the regional community citizens, investors and partners.
It is also billed to close the existing gaps resulting from untimely, unreliable, inaccurate and cumbersome trade information processes, which have left business opportunities largely untapped and other markets unexplored.
Welcoming participants to the meeting, Mr.
Kola Sofola, Ag Director of Trade, ECOWAS Commission, reminded of the overall importance of adequate trade information with a functional website containing a robust communication arrangement that also educates and bring clarity on all matters bordering on trade and ease of doing business.
Also speaking, Mr. Reginald Okoro, the representative of The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit. (GIZ) while appreciating the enthusiasm of the participants at the meeting, stated that his agency was looking forward to fruitful collaboration with the working committee.
In berthing a centralized digital platform where easily accessible, timely and reliable regional trade and related information and intelligence may be found, ECOTIS covers areas that include trade agreements, policy, statistics/intelligence, promotion and capacity building including a special section for COVID19.
The spheres in the different sections are also all-encompassing. For example, the trade agreement section comprises the various trade and related multilateral, continental, regional and bilateral agreements entered into by the regional community, including the recently signed African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).
Among others, presentations were made during the meeting including that of the project consultants which featured the adopted information extraction and work methodology even as the need for availability of focal persons and officials as well as the provision of required documents were stressed.
Being a centralized web-based portal meant to facilitate informed business decisions, policy formulation and academic research, ECOTIS is supported by the GIZ under the Promoting West Africa Trade Integration (WATIP) project, which itself is co-founded by the European Union, under the 10th European Development Fund, and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.