The ECOWAS Commission continued its consultations with State and Non-State Actors on the formulation of the ECOWAS Regional Implementation Strategy for the Agreement of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on 22 March 2022.
With a view to ensuring that that the AfCFTA outcomes are consistent with regional advancements and that the Agreement builds on the ECOWAS acquis, the Commission is accelerating the development of a regional implementation strategy taking a participatory and inclusive approach. To date, twelve (12) ECOWAS Member States have developed or are in the process of developing their national AfCFTA implementation strategy.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Mickson OPOKU, Director of Bilateral, Regional and Multilateral Trade at the Ministry of Trade of the Republic of Ghana, thanked the ECOWAS Commission for its continuous effort to ensure a harmonised implementation of various commitments by Member States. He stressed on the importance of the regional AfCFTA Implementation Strategy, which will ensure that ECOWAS benefit from the continental market as a region.
In his remarks, Mr. Kolawole SOFOLA, Acting Director of Trade at the ECOWAS Commission, on behalf of Mr. Tei KONZI, Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement, recalled the coordinating role of the ECOWAS Commission in the negotiations and implementation of AfCFTA Agreement by its Member States. He stated that the formulation of an ECOWAS regional implementation strategy will ensure a coordinated, integrated and coherent implementation of the AfCFTA. He emphasized the importance of deepening regional and continental value chains so that all Member States benefit from AfCFTA, irrespective of the seize of their national economy. Mr. Sofola concluded his statement by expressing his appreciation to UNECA for their support in the process.
In his remarks, Mr. Mamoudou SEGEBO, representing UNECA, thanked the ECOWAS Commission for organising the meeting which will enable the region to deliberate on the ECOWAS AfCFTA Implementation Strategy. He stated that the UNECA has provided support for the development of twenty three (23) national implementation strategies, as well as five (5) regional implementation strategies. He reiterated the commitment of ECA to continue to support for the development of implementation strategies as well as the start of implementation of these Strategies.
The regional ECOWAS Strategy for the implementation of the AfCFTA is aimed at : (i) Reinforcing the implementation of the ECOWAS mandate in strengthening intra-regional trade; (ii) Guiding its contribution to the negotiation and implementation of the AfCFTA at regional level, and (iii) Supporting its Member States in implementing their national AfCFTA strategies.
Key recommendations from the consultation meetings included the need to: (i) Ensure alignment with the ECOWAS Vision 2050, (ii) strengthen linkages with national AfCFTA implementation strategies; (iii) focus on improving the competitiveness of businesses in the region; (iv) mobilize resources to implement the regional and national AfCFTA implementation strategies.
The two consultation meetings were attended by representatives from the Ministries for Trade, and representatives from Regional Business Associations including the Federation of West Africa Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FEWACCI), Federation of West Africa Employers’ Association (FWAEA/FOPAO), and the Federation of Business Women Entrepreneurs (FEBWE).
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).