By Joseph INOKOTONG
Regional body in Africa met in Ouagadougou, Burkina Fasohas for a two-day Ad hoc expert group meeting on “The impact of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) and the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) on the structural transformation of economies and regional integration in West Africa”.
Jointly organized by ECA’s sub-regional office for West Africa and the government of Burkina Faso, the goal of the meeting is for ECOWAS member states to share their experiences – successes, failures and potential implications of implementing the EPAs and CET.
A statement issued by the Office for West Africa of the Economic Commission for Africa said in other words, what effects would these two initiatives have on the structural transformation and regional integration process in West Africa.
Shedding light on the advantages and disadvantages of such economic deals is part of ECA’s mandate, as articulated by Dimitri Sanga, Director of ECA’s sub-regional office for West Africa.
“I think we have a three-fold issue at hand – the Trade Liberalization Scheme, the CET and the EPAs. We have shared an ECA study on these with participants. We simply present the facts in order to enlighten Member States on potential effects of these initiatives on the structural transformation of West African economies.”
For her part, Burkina Faso’s Secretary of State in charge of land use planning, Pauline Zouré, said,” the theme of this meeting is very timely and relevant, and might actually convince hesitant parties to join our push for the well-being of the entire sub-region.”
The forum provides an opportunity for participants to, among other things, discuss and make recommendations that could guide the choices of decision-makers of the sub-region in view of the adoption of the EU-EPA by the ECOWAS Member States.
The meeting brings together representatives of Regional Economic Communities, Intergovernmental Organizations of the ECOWAS, the WAEMU and the Mano River Union, Member States, the private sector and civil society, experts on foreign trade and customs in West African ministries in charge of trade, the economy and finance.
The Ad hoc meeting is a prelude to the 20th session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts, which will took place Thursday and Friday, under the theme, “Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063: The role of development planning.”