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GTAP Resource #2059

"EU-ECOWAS EPA: Regional Integration, Trade Facilitation and Development in West Africa"
by Alaba, Olumuyiwa

The paper establishes the need for the on-going economic partnership agreements (EPA) negotiation between the European Union’s (EU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to stimulate a competitive trade environment in the latter. The new partnership initiative under the EPA emerges as an unprecedented deviation from Lome provisions and the Everything But Arms (EBA) agreements, by suggesting the need for domestic industries in developing countries to prepare to compete on equal terms with the EU. The negotiations notably aim at establishing a ‘timetable for the progressive removal of barriers to trade between the Parties’. The paper compares regional integration in EU and West Africa. Based on the EU and other global experiences, the paper demonstrates the remarkable economic performance and trade expansion associated with adoption and full commitment to regional integration arrangements (RIAs). However, low commitment to protocols in ECOWAS has been found to constitute a major weakness to regional integration and trade flows in West Africa. This has also explained the dismal trend in the intra-community trade performance in ECOWAS. While about 70% of the total trade in the EU happens within the union, intra-community trade in ECOWAS states is less than 13% on the average.

Various hindrances to regional integration in West Africa were identified in the paper. The impediments were classified into tariffs and non-tariffs. However, with ongoing negotiations at various levels, toward reducing tariffs, non-tariff barriers (NTBs) becomes the most important set of impediments to intra- and extra-ECOWAS trade. The paper identifies the barriers which directly impedes trade facilitation. It provides statistical evidences relating to tariffs, bureaucracy, corruption in customs processes, slow port operations, poor roads and communications infrastructure, wastage and thefts at ports, poor storage conditions, harassment by police and other personnel at innumerable road blocks within the region, and inter-country payment difficulties. These were compared with the global trend in the paper.

The paper concludes that there is need for the EU to support the process leading to deepening integration in ECOWAS. It is obvious from the paper that reform is necessary at various fronts if ECOWAS must remove existing obstacles to trade facilitations. Institutions associated with integration and trade flows requires intensive reform, while trade-related infrastructure requires huge investment for production and trade to be competitive in West Africa. Administrative and procedural process associated with customs operations must fashion out efficient region-wide regulatory framework to reduce the number of custom documents and eliminate human barriers created in this process. Roadblocks on transit roads, which degenerates into excessive human barriers is an indication of lack of trust among national authorities, which implies redundant inspections and poor facilitation of transit cargo clearance leading to long port and border clearance processes. On the transport side the paper suggests the need to harmonize regional transport, by adopting a model similar to the European TIR convention of 1975. One important need confronting ECOWAS at this point is technical and financial supports necessary to implement the demands of trade facilitations. The paper suggests that meeting these needs and development of West Africa in general should be primary, if the EPA must record successes.

Resource Details (Export Citation) GTAP Keywords
Category: 2006 Conference Paper
Status: Published
By/In: Presented at the 9th Annual Conference on Global Economic Analysis, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Created: Alaba, O. (5/1/2006)
Updated: Batta, G. (5/1/2006)
Visits: 4,473
No keywords have been specified.

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