The Federal Government has urged West African Countries to harmonise their fiscal and monetary policies to ensure free trade in the region.
The Federal Government also stressed the need for equal treatment of citizens of member states who owned investments and enterprises within the sub-region.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, said this while addressing members at the 9th West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) Ministers’ Forum in Abuja on Friday.
The theme of this year’s forum was “Harnessing Intra-West Africa Monetary ZoneTrade Potential through Value Addition and Diversification.”
Enelamah was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mr Edet Akpan.
According to the minister, citizens from member states doing business in the region should be given fair treatment and equal opportunities devoid of any form of discrimination.
He enjoined member states to remove all forms of barriers such as high tariffs; as well as improve trade infrastructure.
` `We must encourage and fast-track the process of sea-linking project ongoing in the region and I am glad that more than ever, member countries are making renewed efforts toward industrialisation.
“This effort is targeted toward diversified economic activities, development of productive capacity and poverty reduction.
“Though, the state of industrialisation in WAMZ is weak and the sub-region still accounts for a very low share of global industrial activities, some level of progress has been achieved,’’ he said.
The minister said it was pertinent for the region to develop and industrialise because of the challenge of unemployment and other social vices that had continued to impede development.
Enelamah noted that export in West African Countries had increased substantially in recent time but the region’s export was still dominated primarily by crude products accounting for more than 80 per cent of total export.
“The region’s export of fuel and lubricants was about 43 per cent in 2017, this suggests that the export diversification in the sub-region remained very low.
“It is important to note that all the major crude oil exporters, except Nigeria, are among the less diversified countries in the sub-region,’’ Enelamah said.