ECOWAS takes stock of its progress on trade liberalisation
Salou Djibo, President of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme and former president of Niger, met with ECOWAS Commission President Marcel de Souza to discuss their progress in the implementation of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS). During a briefing session of the ETLS Task Force on 10 May in Abuja, they reiterated the Commission’s commitment to achieve economic integration by improving inter-regional trade among member states. According to de Souza, the ECOWAS Commission aims to increase intra-regional trade from 12% to 50% within the next four years. However, a large number of trade activities are not recorded in official statistics and the de facto level of intra-regional trade might be already much higher. A progress report, conducted in seven member countries, highlights the many challenges encountered by the ETLS. Smooth border crossings of West African goods still pose immense challenges and a general lack of information undermines the implementation of ETLS. “It is important to familiarise the members of the judiciary and legal sectors in the region on the provisions of the ETLS in order to effectively settle disputes which may arise at the national level.” Djibo said. Through various media channels and platforms, ECOWAS intends to raise awareness among citizens and key stakeholders. The ETLS is the main tool for promoting the West Africa region as a free trade area. It aims to eliminate all customs duties and taxes with the equivalent effect and to remove non-tariff barriers. ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement, Laouali Chaibou and the Director of Customs, Salifou Tiemtoré, as well as ROPPA Honorary President Mamadou Cissokho participated in the event.