Accra: ECOWAS has held a two-day regional workshop on the design, development and implementation of a harmonized programme for the management and regulation of informal trade in the sub-region. According to ECOWAS, the exercise will be based on a policy agreed by member states. The workshop took place in Dakar, Senegal November 15 and 16, 2011.
In a statement, ECOWAS said it’s Commission on Trade, Customs, Industry and Mines, Free Movement of Persons and Tourism, which organized the meeting, has observed that informal trade has become an indispensable tool that could be leveraged to improve intra-community trade, given the huge number of people involved and the range of activities covered.
According to ECOWAS, the Dakar meeting’s move to regulate the informal trade sector was due to the fact that trade has become an integral part of the African economy given its predominance in both rural and urban areas.
Defined as a set of production units without a business registration number and/or formal written financial records, the regional body observed that informal trade involves businesses operated by non-registered companies and thus it is not taxed and there are no official statistics on it.
The Small and Medium-scale Enterprise (SME) sector is involved in informal trade, which employs a large number of women, with potential positive impact on poverty reduction and equality between men and women, ECOWAS said citing official estimates.