Accra (Ghana), Aug 29 : India's research and advocacy organisation CUTS International has opened a centre here to help West African countries in their regional integration.

"We welcome the opening of the CUTS Centre in Accra and look forward to its active participation in providing research support to Ghana and the west African region on critical economic policy issues," Ghana's Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Minister Hanna S. Tetteh said at the inauguration earlier this week.

"CUTS has developed a successful methodology of connecting grassroots to the policy makers especially through applied research, advocacy and networking," Tetteh said, delivering the CUTS 30th anniversary lecture on "Regional Integration as Tool for Poverty Reduction in West Africa".

Speaking of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Tetteh said "ECOWAS is celebrated within and outside Africa as one of the most innovative and advanced among the continent's regional economic communities".

ECOWAS leaders will meet in October to decide on issues critical to regional integration like the Common External Tariff (CET), and the Community Levy.

The CET seeks to harmonise and bring in the convergence of national fiscal, monetary and trade policies of member states for the attainment of economic integration by the 15-nation economic community with a combined population of more than 300 million people.

Saying that CUTS had earlier done a study on the costs of economic non-cooperation in south Asia, which showed a gain of $2 billion to consumers if tariffs were rationalized, CUTS secretary-general Pradeep S. Mehta said the organisation was ready to do a similar study for the ECOWAS region.

The Accra centre is CUTS' third office in sub-Saharan Africa.

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