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Promoting fruitful cooperation between ECOWAS And The Association Of South-East Asian Nations

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Marcel de Souza, has expressed the wish to see established a dynamic, effective and win-win cooperation between the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

He expressed this wish during his meeting with the Ambassadors of Indonesia, Harry Purwanto, Malaysia, Datuk Lim Juay Jin, Thailand, Chailert Limsomboon, Vietnam, Pham Anh Tuan, and Luis Cuyugan, of the Embassy of the Philippines, held in Abuja, Nigeria on 10 January 2017.

Mr. de Souza was impressed with the various advancements recorded by ASEAN since its creation in 1967, such as the strong growth rate, poverty reduction, the fight against insecurity, and the attractive conditions made to draw foreign investors to Southeast Asia.

Anxious to see West Africa take a cue from the model, gaining from the experience of Southeast Asia, the President of the Commission invited the Asian diplomats to explore possibilities for fruitful cooperation between ASEAN and ECOWAS in 2017. He went on to state that the cooperation could be in agriculture, animal husbandry, security and aviation.

Marcel de Souza proposed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two organisations; the visit of senior officers of the ECOWAS Commission to the ASEAN secretariat in Jakarta Indonesia; a Summit of Heads of State of ECOWAS and ASEAN to be held in a West African State; and the setup of a committee made up of focal points for cooperation between the two organisations.

The ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement, Laouali Chaïbou, and the Ag. External Relations Director, Jérôme Boa, were named as focal points for ECOWAS.

The Asian diplomats at the meeting welcomed the proposals made and went on to commend the initiative to establish a framework for partnership between their organisation and ECOWAS, informing the meeting of the choice of the Chairman of the ASEAN Standing Committee based in Abuja, Nigeria to serve as focal point for ASEAN.

According to Thailand’s Ambassador, Chailert Limsomboon, there are huge opportunities for cooperation between ASEAN and ECOWAS, and both sides need time to determine the areas for collaboration.

His Vietnamese counterpart, Pham Anh Tuan, noted that distance should not debar cooperation and development but rather serve as a challenge to be tackled by both organisations.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), headquartered in Abuja, Nigeria, is a regional grouping of 15 West African countries, with a population of 320 million inhabitants.

Founded on 28 May 1975 in Lagos Nigeria, the organisation’s main aim is to promote cooperation and integration for the purpose of creating an economic and monetary union of its Member States.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a political, economic and cultural organisation bringing together 10 countries of Southeast Asia was founded in 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, and has its general secretariat located in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The organisation aims to strengthen cooperation between its members, provide a medium for resolving regional problems and present a common front in international negotiations.

Aside from his meeting with the Asian diplomats, the ECOWAS Commission President also met with the acting head of the Permanent Interstate Committee for drought control in the Sahel (CILSS), Dr. Souleymane Ouédraogo.

The latter was there to update Mr. de Souza on the institution’s current situation, present the 10-point roadmap for his four-month mission at the helm of CILSS, while soliciting for advice and guidance on the means to accomplishing this mission.

Marcel de Souza asked his guest to propose concrete solutions not only to the management crisis currently gripping CILSS but also and more importantly the food shortage within the community region.

The President of the Commission also urged Dr. Souleymane Ouédraogo to work towards revamping CILSS for greater efficiency and to limit the number of missions, seminars and workshops, most of which provide no clear added-value, he noted.

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