Meeting of the Technical Working Group on Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Common Trade Policy

Meeting of the Technical Working Group on Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Common Trade Policy

Meeting of the Technical Working Group on Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Common Trade Policy
Meeting of the Technical Working Group on Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Common Trade Policy

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

Trade stakeholders from both regional and national levels have gathered in Abuja, Nigeria, for a three-day meeting from July 9th to 11th, 2024, to review and amend the Draft ECOWAS Common Trade Policy (CTP). This initiative follows recommendations from Trade Expert’s meetings and the Joint Meetings of the ECOWAS Ministers of Trade and Industry held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, last year. The technical working group will also draft the Strategic Action Plan for the Draft ECOWAS Common Trade Policy, ensuring both documents are ready for presentation to the ECOWAS Ministers of Trade for validation.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Kolawole Sofola, the ECOWAS Director of Trade, speaking on behalf of Madame Massandjé TOURE-LITSE, Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture, emphasized the importance of ownership among participants. He called for the enhancement of the quality of the final document, ensuring that the amendments reflect national interests that promote regional integration to improve the social and economic standards of living for citizens.

Director Sofola highlighted the significant milestones achieved with the drafting of the policy, which aims to make trade a vital component of the economic lives of the people and the regional integration agenda. He noted that despite various interventions, policies, strategies, and initiatives aimed at increasing intra-regional trade, diversification, and market access, such as the ETLS, CET, and WACIP, intra-regional trade remains around 7 percent, with regional currencies depreciating against major currencies and high inflation rates.

We are hopeful, however, that the adoption of a number of trade policy instruments such as the E-Commerce and the AfCFTA Implementation Strategies and action plans by our statutory bodies in 2023, will, together with the CTP, help spur more economic growth and integration for our region,” Mr. Sofola said. “Furthermore, when adopted, the CTP will provide a common framework for our trade relations even with third parties, and attract, sustain, and leverage investment both foreign and domestic.”

He praised West Africa as an emerging player in continental and global trade with all 15 Member States have signed the AfCFTA, and 14, except Benin, have ratified it. We are renegotiating our tariff at the multilateral level, which is expected to avail us yet another opportunity to harness our region’s industrialization and value addition potentials,” he stated.

Hajiya Zulaikha Abdullahi, Deputy Director Intra-Africa Branch/Trade Information and Complaints (TIC) Division represented Mr. S.O.Gana Tuayeringha, Head, Trade department from the Nigerian Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, in her opening remarks, reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to the ECOWAS integration agenda, with its Trade Policy of 2023-2027, which aligns closely with the objectives of the ECOWAS CTP. “Nigeria is dedicated to promoting regional economic integration, enhancing market access, and facilitating sustainable development through trade,” she added.

She emphasized the importance of the trade policy, calling it the cornerstone in enhancing intra-regional trade, removing barriers, and fostering a conducive environment for economic growth and development across member states.

The director urged experts to leverage this unique opportunity to consolidate their efforts and ensure that the policy reflects shared aspirations for a prosperous West African region, addresses outstanding issues, streamlines approaches, and lays the groundwork for a policy that reflects the aspirations of diverse populations.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).