Liberia Chairs West African Trade Ministers Meeting in Lome, Togo

Minister Marvie post with the Togolese Trade Minister
Minister Marvie post with the Togolese Trade Minister
Photo Credit: Minister Marvie

Lomè, Togo, Wednesday, 7 December 2016, ECOWAS Trade Ministers convened at the Sarakawa Hotel in Lomè to take stock of trade developments impacting the region and provide recommendations to the Heads of State.

 

The Ministerial meeting was chaired by the Honorable Deputy Minister of Commerce and Trade Services, Honorable Stephen Marvie, Jr., whose technical expertise became an important element in the interpretation of the discussions coming out of the Trade Experts’ meeting which was held for two days prior to the Trade Ministers meeting.

 

The one-day Ministerial meeting was called to pulse check development regarding the West Africa – European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the impact of the ratification of the interim EPAs by Ghana and La Côte d’Ivoire, a Competitive Observatory Framework for the EPA, WTO tariff renegotiations for member states, the African Union Continental Free Trade Area Negotiations, the trade initiatives of the United States of America, such as, Trade Africa, Power Africa, West Africa Trade Hub, and the Millennium Challenge Support, and preparations for the 8th ECOWAS Trade Fair scheduled to take place in Niger in 2017. The meeting also discussed requests by other trading partners, namely, the People’s Republic of China, Turkey, Indonesia, and India to open free trade negotiations with the ECOWAS region.

 

The meeting was opened by speeches from Honorable Louali Chaibou, Honorable Commissioner of Trade, ECOWAS, Honorable Mrs. Bernadette Legzim-Balouki, Minister of Trade, Private Sector Promotion and Tourism, Republic of Togo, Honorable Steve Marvie, Deputy Minister for Trade Services, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Liberia.

 

The Chair of the Experts’ meeting, Mr. Lowell Wesley, Director of Knowledge Management, made a presentation of the technical report.

 

The deliberations were focused on the following issues

 

  • Endorsement of the ECOWAS Aid for Trade Strategy
  • EPA: ECOWAS Trade Ministers noted that although ECOWAS would like to see a regional approach in the EPA negotiations and the implementation of the CET, the geographic location of Cape Verde must be considered within the broader framework of the negotiations and implementation period respectively.
  • On the CET, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, The Gambia and Guinea Bissau assured member states that the CET would be implemented in 2017.
  • Ministers encouraged member states and ECOWAS Commission to robustly participate in the CFTA negotiations and put in place an AGOA Strategy.
  • Ministers agreed to forward a recommendation to the Heads of State that Nigeria should be fully engaged at the political level by the Chairperson of ECOWAS, the President of ECOWAS, and a committee of few, probably composing of Ghana, and La Côte d’Ivoire on the signing of the EPA.
  • Ministers also noted that requests for free trade negotiations by the People’s Republic of China, Turkey, Indonesia, and India should be tabled and studied with the caveat that there should be no national or regional negotiation opened by any member state prior to the conclusion and submission of the findings form the studies. Ministers agreed that this recommendation should be forwarded to the Chairperson of ECOWAS, the President of ECOWAS and the Heads of State. The Trade Ministers endorsed the Ministerial Report and the Honorable Chairman, Honorable Stephen Marvie, Deputy Minister for Commerce and Trade Services, closed the meeting.