FG Sensitises Southeast Manufacturers, Traders On ECOWAS Free Trade Scheme


The federal government has urged manufacturers, importers and exporters in the South East region of the country to embrace huge opportunities offered by the ECOWAS Free Trade Liberation Scheme (ETLS) to boost their personal and national income.

Minister of the Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar made the call on Friday in Awka at a workshop organised the ministry for manufacturers, importers, exporters as well as small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the five southeast states – Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo.

Represented by the director, International Organisation Department of the ministry, Ambassador Obinna Onowu, the foreign affairs minister urged the manufacturers and traders to register with the ministry to enable them qualify to enjoy the huge gains and opportunities offered by the ETLS.

He stated that ETLS was established since 1979 as an initiative of ECOWAS aimed at enhancing co-operation and integration in trade as well as ensuring economic stability by creating an economic union within the region for the wellbeing of the citizens of the community.

He said, “The primary goal is to establish a customs union among all member states with the ultimate objective of completely eliminating customs duties and implementing a unified customs policy.

“The ETLS represents an ideal opportunity to foster greater economic integration, and unlock the immense potential of intra-regional trade.”

He stated that the ministry organised a similar sensitisation programme in Kano in 2020 and in Lagos in 2023 for manufacturers, importers and exporters in the Northwest and Southwest zones respectively, but emphasised that the ministry viewed holding the programme in the Southeast as very critical because of the huge number of the stakeholders in the region.




One of the resource persons, Mr Honnana Kemsat from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that ETLS synergises with the African Continent Free Trade Area (AFCTA) adding that the relationship creates a seamless gateway for free customs duties for bonafide manufacturers and traders under ETLS.


He stated that it was obvious that huge customs duties being charged businessmen constitute a great source of discouragement to them and urged the stakeholders to embrace the ETLS so as to enjoy improved businesses not just within the 15 ECOWAS member states but also among countries within the African continent.


Anambra state governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, represented by his chief of staff, Mr Ernest Ezeajughi commended the ministry for the sensitisation workshop stating that the awareness being created would help traders improve on their income and contribute to the boosting of the economy of the region.


Only commissioners of commerce and industries from Anambra and Ebonyi states attended the workshop from the five South East states just as there were no attendees from Abia, Enugu and Imo states.



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