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ECOWAS leaders discuss consolidation of regional market
 
Posted on: 26-Oct-2013        
 
 
 
An extraordinary meeting of the Economic Community of West African States ( ECOWAS), being attended by Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur in Dakar, Senegal has gone into a closed-door session to consider a memorandum on the consolidation of the regional market.

The summit is also considering the finalisation of the Common External Tariff (CET); the Community Integration Levy as well as the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between West Africa and the European Union.

Opening the summit, Ivorian President, Allasane Ouatarra, the current chair of ECOWAS, urged the leaders to use the meeting to prepare the organization for the best economic and trade negotiations with other regional groupings, especially the European Union for shared prosperity.

That he said, called for the sub-region taking advantage of its assets to quickly act to achieve deadlines to be able to participate effectively in world trade and commerce.

President Ouatarra called for a common front among ECOWAS nations for an effective common market, and stressed the need for infant industries to be encouraged in the challenging global market.

He commended Mali for the successful conduct of elections in Mali, promising that ECOWAS would give similar support for the return to democracy in Guinea Bissau.

Host President, Macky Sall, urged the ECOWAS Leaders to work hard to achieve the vision of using the ECOWAS frame work to achieve better lives for their peoples.

Some 5,899 tariff lines are covered under the new tariff regime, with tariff ranging between zero and 35 per cent for the 130 tariff lines that fall into the category of specific goods that contribute to the promotion of the region’s economic development.

Under the new regime, five per cent duty is applicable for 2,146 tariff lines under the basic raw materials and capital goods category, 10 per cent for the 1,373 tariff lines that qualify as intermediate products category while 20 per cent duty is reserved for the 2,165 tariff lines under final consumer products.

The Ministers agreed that the concerns expressed by some member states, such as the treatment of raw sugar, and the request for special treatment for Cape Verde because of its location and vulnerabilities, should be addressed within the framework of trade defence measures.

They also agreed on the creation of a 1.5 per cent Community Integration Levy, which scope and operationalisation would be the subject of further regional reflection as part of the mechanisms to enable the region to cope with the challenges of implementation of the new tariff regime.

The levy will replace the two existing community levy regimes in the region - the ECOWAS Community levy and the counterpart Community Solidarity levy for the UEMOA - the major sources of funding for the two Commissions.

The replacement will also help ensure uniformity in port charges in compliance with the requirements of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

For the effective implementation of the new CET, the ministers also urged the ECOWAS Commission to expedite the finalisation of the trade defense and other support measures.

The negotiations have been stalled mainly due to disagreements over the size of the West African market to be opened to the EU and the timetable for dismantling the existing tariff, the EPA Development Programme (EPADP) funding, to enable the region to cope with the cost of adjustment to the EPA, the non-execution clause and the most favoured nation status.