The Sub-Regional Office for West Africa of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Government of Benin are organising an ad hoc expert group meeting, under the theme: “Implications of ECOWAS potential expansion and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)”, in Cotonou, on June 25-26.
This Ad-hoc Meting, which will hold upon the signing of the AfCFTA by 44 countries of the 55 Member-States of the African Union, and with the intention manifested by some North African countries to join the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), aims to carry out further in-depth reflection on the likely economic and socio-economic implications of these major projects.
Mr. Dimitri Sanga, Director of the ECA Sub-Regional Office for West Africa, holds that, “As Africa is firmly committed to implementing the AfCFTA, we are taking a step forward towards establishing the African Economic Community as advocated for by some of the founding fathers of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). This move has to come along with dispassionate discussions and reflections on the real implications of these commitments, so as to lift the barriers and overcome the relevant challenges. This is the case for on-going requests for the possible expansion of ECOWAS. We are convinced that the Experts from West Africa will provide possible solutions for completing all these projects, which have the potential of leading us towards the integration of the Sub region and the continent at large”.
The ad hoc Experts Group Meeting will help participants examine economic implications relating to trade flows and public revenues, identify and discuss the main challenges and stakes for ECOWAS, and also for the candidate-countries vying for membership. They will also make recommendations for an economic and socio-economic expansion that is beneficial for the different parties and especially for an effective AfCFTA.
This two-day meeting will include plenary sessions during which participants will discuss the major implications, challenges and stakes regarding the expansion of ECOWAS through the membership of new countries, both for the different parties and for the implementation of the AfCFTA.
The meeting will be attended by experts from ECOWAS Member States, representatives of regional economic communities and intergovernmental organisations in West Africa. Representatives of the private sector and civil society actively engaged in development efforts to promote integration in West Africa will also be present. Experts in foreign trade, customs and integration issues at the ministries of trade and economy and finance are the main targets at the country level.