The International Trade Centre (ITC) says it has begun preliminary discussions with the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to launch a customised Trade Map tool for the West African sub-region.
The West Africa Competitiveness Programme (WACOMP) made this known in a statement issued on Tuesday by Ms Obiananma Agbim, its Project Administrative Assistant.
According to the programme, the trade information tool will serve as a key resource for business owners seeking to identify potential business partners in the region.
“Through the ECOWAS trade Portal, trade map users will review up-to-date trade statistics, an outline of applicable regional tariffs and existing public tenders available in the region,” it said.
It quoted Ashish Shah, ITC’s Director of Division of Country Programmes, as saying “the installation of the Trade Map tool takes an initial step towards achieving ITC’s larger mandate of consolidating the continent’s trade information, through the Africa Trade Observatory as tasked by the African Union.
“Direct access to this trading tool gives West African small firms valuable data to guide their strategic business objectives.”
The programme said that trade map users could have access to a directory of buyers and sellers across the world, export performance indicators, competitive, and alternative markets.
The monitoring tool currently covers more than 220 countries and retains the information of more than 5,000 products listed in the Harmonised System – the international nomenclature for the classification of products.
WACOMP also quoted Mamadou Traoré, ECOWAS Commissioner of Industry and Private Sector Promotion, as saying “trade map will particularly ease the identification of traditional, alternative and new markets for goods and services as well as opportunities for new investments.
“We consider the Map as a key tool for deepening economic integration in ECOWAS, enhancing enterprise and regional competitiveness and connecting our economies to global value chains and markets.”
According to the programme, the alert tool tracks trade barriers at a national and regional level for SMEs and MSMEs.
“Access to this trade intelligence gives a wealth of trade data information, ensuring MSMEs have both a regional and global outlook for their business products,” it said.
WACOMP aims to support a number of selected value chains at national and regional level to promote structural transformation and better access to regional and international markets, while taking into account social and environmental concerns.
WACOMP’s overall objective is to strengthen competitiveness of West African countries and enhance their integration into the regional and international trading system.
The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organisation and the UN.
It assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Unemployment drops in Germany
Germany’s labour market in October remained stable as the number of unemployed people declined slightly by 30,000 to a total of 2.2 million compared to September.
The German Federal Employment Agency (BA) announced on Wednesday.
“The current economic weakness is certainly leaving its mark on the labor market, All in all, however, it remains robust,’’ said Detlef Scheele, head of the BA.
At 4.8 percent, the unemployment rate in Germany in October was 0.1 percentage points below the previous month’s as well as previous year’s figures.
“The number of unemployed is still stable, but the economic slowdown is becoming increasingly noticeable on the labor market with the usual delay,’’ Holger Schaefer, senior economist for employment at the German Economic Institute (IW) told Xinhua.
Meanwhile, demand for labor in Germany was declining, in October, 764,000 job vacancies were registered at the German employment agency ,60,000 fewer than a year earlier.
Although employment was still increasing, the number of vacancies in October was seven percent below the previous year’s level.
Short-time work is also gaining in importance and could reach the level of the 2012-2013 recessions in the coming months, according to Schaefer.