June 16, 2024

ECOWAS trade officials convene in Abuja to boost economic integration


Senior trade sector officials from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) gathered in Abuja on May 15-16 to review and validate regional instruments aimed at enhancing economic integration and promoting regional trade.

The pivotal two-day meeting focused on refining and recommending trade policy instruments to the regional Ministers of Trade and Industry.

It also included an in-depth analysis of regional participation and outcomes from the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (MC13).

In his opening address, Mr. Kolawole Sofola, ECOWAS Trade Director, speaking on behalf of Ms. Massandjé TOURE-LITSE, Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture, underscored the Commission’s commitment to fortifying economic integration and addressing current trade challenges.

“Our concerted efforts today are aimed at ensuring that our trade policies meet expectations and promote prosperity in our region,” Sofola emphasized.

Mr. Sofola called on member states to build on various regional, continental, and multilateral decisions and instruments, including the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and the outcomes of the MC13.

Representing the Nigerian government, Mrs. Doris Uzoka-Anniete and Mrs. Zulaikha Abdullahi, Deputy Director of Intra-African Trade, welcomed participants and commended the ECOWAS Commission for organizing the meeting.

“The deliberations of this meeting should lay the groundwork for the next joint meeting of Trade and Industry Ministers, where crucial decisions will be made to advance our collective trade agenda,” said Dr. Uzoka.

The discussions included a review of the results of the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference, the implementation status of the AfCFTA, and the state of the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union. A notable recommendation was the establishment of a Regional Working Group on Tariff Renegotiations at the WTO and a cooperation agreement between the ECOWAS Regional Competition Authority (ERCA) and member states to enhance competition policy and law enforcement mechanisms in the region.

Attendees included senior trade officials from ECOWAS member states, representatives from the ECOWAS Commission, the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), and the WTO, reflecting a broad commitment to advancing regional economic integration.

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