The Sub-Regional Office for West Africa of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Government of Burkina Faso are organising an Ad hoc Experts’ Group Meeting on May 16-17 in Ouagadougou on “The impact of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff and the Economic Partnership Agreements with the European Union on the structural transformation of economies and regional integration in West Africa”.
The main objective of this ad hoc meeting, which will be held two years after the implementation of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) by Member States and the approval of the EPAs by the Summit of Heads of State and Government on July 2014 in Accra, including the entry into force of the interim Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) for certain countries in West Africa, is to share experiences and considerations on the effective and potential implications of the implementation of these two initiatives on structural transformation and the process of regional integration in West Africa.
According to Dr. DimitriSanga, Director of the ECA for West Africa, “trade among African countries is at a level which is very far from accelerating the integration of the continent as advocated by the African Union. The ECOWAS area is no exception as, with shares of intra-community trade ranging between 10% and 15%, the level is still too low to contribute to continental ambitions. This meeting will enable us to see if the entry into force of the ECOWAS-CET is likely to improve intra-community trade within the ECOWAS area”.
The Ad hoc Experts’ Group Meeting will enable participants to discuss the effects of the implementation of the CET in the ECOWAS area and the EPAs on economic and social development with a view to their adoption by the ECOWAS, to share the experiences of countries on the application of the ECOWAS-CET in the sub-region in order to ensure its appropriation and effective implementation by all Member States, to present the interim results of the study at the high-level meeting of experts from the sub-region, to contribute to enriching the content of the draft report proposed by the ECA, to formulate recommendations on the beneficial implementation of the ECOWAS-CET for the Member States and to propose guidelines to elucidate the options of decision-makers from the sub-region with a view to the adoption of the EU-EPAs by the ECOWAS Member States.
This meeting, which will proceed in the form of plenary sessions, will see the participation of representatives from the Regional Economic Communities (RECs)/Intergovernmental Organisations (IGOs) of the ECOWAS, the WAEMU, the Mano River Union (MRU) and Member States, as well as representatives from key institutions, including the private sector and civil society, which are working actively on the development issues of the sub-region in relation to the promotion of trade integration in West Africa. Experts on external trade and customs issues from ministries in charge of trade and those in charge of the economy and finance are the main targets at the country level.