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ECOWAS senior trade officials convene in Abuja to validate regional instruments to foster Economic integration

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ABUJA, Nigeria, May 18, 2024/ — Senior Trade Officials from ECOWAS Member States gathered in Abuja, Nigeria, from 15th to 16th May 2024 to consider regional instruments towards enhancing regional economic integration and trade.

The overall objective of the 2-day meeting was to review, validate, and recommend regional trade policy instruments to the Ministers of Trade and Industry. In addition, the Meeting also considered the region’s participation at and the outcome of the 13th World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC13).

In his opening remarks on behalf of Madame Massandjé TOURE-LITSE, Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture, Mr. Kolawole Sofola, the Director of Trade for ECOWAS, reaffirmed the Commission’s dedication to strengthening economic integration and tackling current trade issues. “Our concerted efforts today are geared towards ensuring our trade policies respond to the changing realities, and promote prosperity in our region,” said Mr. Sofola. He urged Member States to build on various regional, continental and multilateral Decisions and Instruments, including the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme, the African Continental Free Trade Area, as well as the outcome of the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference.

In her opening remarks on behalf of the Minister of the Industry, Trade and Investment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, H.E. Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anniete, Madam Zulaikha Abdullahi, Deputy Director – Intra-African Trade, welcomed the Senior Trade Officials to Abuja on behalf of the Government and People of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and commended the ECOWAS Commission for organising the meeting. She expressed appreciation to Member States for their commitment towards promoting regional integration on trade. “The deliberations at this meeting are to set a foundation for the upcoming Joint Meeting of Ministers of Trade and Industry, where critical decisions will be made to advance our collective trade agenda,” stated H.E Dr Doris Uzoka.

Consideration of the outcomes of the thirteenth WTO Ministerial Conference, the status of implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), as well as the status of the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union were amongst the discussions in the meeting.

The meeting adopted a recommendation to establish a Regional Working Group on the Tariff Renegotiations at WTO, as well as to conclude a cooperation agreement between the ECOWAS Regional Competition Authority (ERCA) and Member States aimed at strengthening competition policy and enforcement mechanisms across the region.

The meeting was attended by Senior Trade Officials from ECOWAS Members States, Officials from the ECOWAS and UEMOA Commissions and the WTO.

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