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ECOWAS Senior Trade Officials Meet in Abuja to Approve Regional Instruments for Economic Integration

Senior Trade Officials from ECOWAS Member States gathered in Abuja, Nigeria, from 15th to 16th May 2024 to discuss regional instruments aimed at enhancing regional economic integration and trade.

The main goal of the 2-day meeting was to assess, validate, and recommend regional trade policy instruments to the Ministers of Trade and Industry. Additionally, the Meeting also addressed the region’s involvement in and the outcomes of the 13th World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC13).

In his opening speech on behalf of Madame Massandjé TOURE-LITSE, Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture, Mr. Kolawole Sofola, the Director of Trade for ECOWAS, reiterated the Commission’s commitment to strengthening economic integration and addressing current trade challenges. “Our collaborative efforts today are focused on ensuring our trade policies align with changing realities and promote prosperity in our region,” said Mr. Sofola. He encouraged 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, and the outcomes of the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference.

In her opening statement on behalf of the Minister of 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 praised the ECOWAS Commission for organizing the meeting. She expressed gratitude to Member States for their dedication to promoting regional trade integration. “The discussions at this meeting are laying the groundwork for the upcoming Joint Meeting of Ministers of Trade and Industry, where crucial decisions will be made to advance our collective trade agenda,” stated H.E Dr. Doris Uzoka.

Topics discussed in the meeting included the outcomes of the thirteenth WTO Ministerial Conference, the implementation status of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and the status of the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union.

The meeting endorsed a proposal to establish a Regional Working Group on Tariff Renegotiations at WTO, as well as to finalize a cooperation agreement between the ECOWAS Regional Competition Authority (ERCA) and Member States with the aim of strengthening competition policy and enforcement mechanisms across the region.

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

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

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