The spiraling cost of basic food items and its impact on the region will be among the issues for discussion during an extraordinary meeting of regional Ministers of Trade and Industry scheduled for May 8, 2008 in Abuja, the Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Jean de Dieu Somda told Ambassadors of Member States on Tuesday, 22nd April 2008.
Responding to concerns raised by Ambassadors during the 18th Mediation and Security Council meeting, the Vice President blamed distortions caused by poor “distribution’ for some of the current problems being experienced in the region. He told the Ambassadors that during the meeting, the ministers will also propose measures to mitigate the effects of the increasing cost of such items on the citizens of the region, including a strategy for developing synergies that will enable the citizens overcome the adverse effect of the increase. There have been reported riots in some Member States to protest the situation. The Vice President said the meeting will also review the status of tasks assigned the Commission in relation to the negotiation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union. He also briefed the Ambassadors on the security situation in the region, saying that while the region was in the process of consolidation, it was concerned and engaged with the situation in some of its Member States including Cote d’Ivoire where it expects elections to take place later in the year with the resolution of all the outstanding issues. On Guinea Bissau, he said ECOWAS was working in close collaboration with the United Nations and other partners to address the situation where the country has become a transit point for drugs coming from Latin America into Europe.
The Vice President also announced that a delegation of ECOWAS Chiefs of Defence Staff is due in the country on 24th April 2008 to discuss, among other things, the security sector reforms in the country and the welfare of the security agents, particularly soldiers.
During the visit, they are scheduled to hold discussions with the President, Prime Ministers and Chief of Defence Staff.