THE Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, has moved to improve the economic integration within the region by building the capacity and increasing the awareness of members of the Nigerian media through a two-day sensitisation workshop on International Trade Agreements, with focus on the European Union, EU/West Africa Economic Partnership Agreement, EPA.
Laouali Chaibou, ECOWAS commissioner for Trade, Customs, Free Movement and Tourism, during his opening remarks on September 6, in Abuja, emphasised the importance of the media in disseminating factual information in order to enable ECOWAS citizens have a better understanding of the EU-West Africa EPA.
‘The ECOWAS Commission remains committed to building West Africa’s capacity on trade policy formulation and negotiation of International Trade Agreements in order to ensure that West Africa can benefit from the opportunities of the international trading system and use trade as a tool for economic development and poverty reduction’ He said.
Similarly, Mr. Richard Young, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS stressed the need for countries to be integrated into the world economy in order to sustain long term growth.
Hence, He stated that the EPA will give West African countries unrestricted access to the European market, but the West African market will only be opened to the EU in phases over a period of twenty years with policies put in place that will protect infant industries in the region.
The ECOWAS Director of Trade, Dr. Gbenga Obideyi gave members of the media a detailed insight into the terms of the EU/West Africa EPA, multilateral trading systems, regional trade agreements, market access opportunities and the history of the World Trade Organization.
The Director informed participants of the workshop that apart from the EPA being a trade agreement, it also has a development component – The Economic Partnership Agreement Development Programme (EPADP). Under this programme, the EU will over a five year period (2015-2020) fund development and infrastructural projects in the region to the tune of €6.5 Billion.
Furthermore, the EPA which will serve to improve intra-regional trade has incorporated multilateral and bilateral safe guard measures as well as anti-dumping and countervailing measures. The EPA may be evaluated or reviewed every five years upon a 12 month prior notification by either party.
Negotiations for the EPA where concluded in 2014 with the view of succeeding the Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA) of 2000. The principal goal of the EPA is to promote the progressive and harmonious integration of West African States into the global economy. So far all 28 EU countries have signed the agreement while 13 West African states have signed with the exception of Nigeria, The Gambia and Mauritania.
Also in attendance of the workshop where representatives of the European Union and the ECOWAS Commission.
— Sep 19, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT