ECOWAS Institutions Technical Working Groups on the AfCFTA Negotiations hold Coordination Meeting in Nasarawa
Nasarawa, Nigeria, January 25, 2022. The Department of Trade, Customs and Free Movement, through the Trade Directorate, of the ECOWAS Commission has organised a three-day meeting for the ECOWAS Institutions Technical Working Groups (TWGs) established within the Framework of the Negotiations of the African Continental Free Area (AfCFTA) from January 25 – 27, 2022 in Nasarawa State, Nigeria.
The Technical Working Groups (TWG) constituted by officials from various ECOWAS Institutions and Agencies was put in place to facilitate support to Member States during the AfCFTA negotiations and implementation, as well as to ensure ECOWAS’ active engagement of key stakeholders during all phases of the negotiations.
The three-day coordination meeting provides a platform for the presentation of updates regarding the AfCFTA negotiations under the various Protocols and facilitate exchange of views amongst participants in a bid to further reinforce ECOWAS’ technical contributions both in its capacity as a REC and building bloc of the African Union as well as in its support to Member States, who are the primary negotiators within this process.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Kolawole Sofola, Ag. Director of Trade of the ECOWAS Commission, on behalf of the Mr. Tei KONZI, Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement, welcomed colleagues to the meeting. He highlighted the various initiatives taken by ECOWAS to ensure an inclusive negotiation process such as the establishment of the Technical Working Groups for ECOWAS Institutions, awareness raising and capacity building for Business Associations and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), development of Regional AfCFTA Strategy, preparation of technical briefs.
The TWGs cover the following thematic areas: Goods, Services, Dispute Settlement, Investment, Intellectual Property Rights, Competition Policy, Digital Trade as well as Women & Youth in Trade.
Each group was tasked to follow and monitor AfCFTA negotiations under the different thematic areas, assess the evolving policies and positions proposed under AfCFTA with a view to providing substance and content that would guide member States’ negotiations within the various negotiating committees. With this strategy, the ECOWAS Commission has so far successfully assisted member States adopt common positions that have enriched their negotiations and contributions under the AfCFTA negotiating process. In addition to the technical thematic areas, a TWG on Communication was also established.