Why ECOWAS economic integration is failing – NANTS

The weak understanding of regional framework, bribery and corruption, delays of transit goods and un-receipted charges are among the reasons why the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) trade and economic integration protocols fail years after their enactment and adoption, the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) has said.

Secretariat President of the association Barrister Kenneth Ukaoha said this Thursday in Abuja at a two-day Public-Private Sector Dialogue (PPD) on Strengthening Nigeria’s Trade Support Institution (SNTSI) themed “Nigeria/ECOWAS Trade and Integration Process,” organised by NANTS, European Union (EU), German International Cooperation (GIZ) and other Nigerian stakeholders.

He said since 1975 formation of ECOWAS key instruments and protocols seeking to position cross border trade as a tool for wealth creation and poverty reduction including ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS), the Free Movement Protocol (supported with the Rights of Establishment and Rights of Residence), Common Industrial Policy, Supplementary Protocol on Competition and the Common External Tariff (CET) among others.

“Despite all the above efforts at building a regional market and full trade and economic integration through the existence of these requisite trade protocols and instruments, attainment of full integration in ECOWAS still appear to be a mirage. The trade and integration process in West Africa had suffered this noticeable setback largely owing to the poor implementation of these policy instruments put together and adopted by the regional leaders,” Ukaoha said.

While saying that the ETLS which was the first trade instrument on custom union and common market was obeyed and implemented in breaches, he added that Nigeria sitting on the fence is untenable and must stand to her responsibility as the political and economic leader of the region to fast-track full integration by among others deploying trade as instrument for growth and development and identifying the challenges and solving them.

The Director Trade of ECOWAS, Dr. Gbenga Obideyi said though the governments of the region signed the agreements, the impact and implementation fall more on the private sector and the populace hence the need for sustained harmonious relationship.

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