The ECOWAS regional Trade Facilitation Committee (RTFC) operationalises sub committees on transparencey, women in trade and border management29 Nov, 2023
The ECOWAS Commission convened the Fourth (4th) Meeting of the ECOWAS Regional Trade Facilitation Committee (RTFC) in Abuja, Nigeria, from November 20th to 22nd, 2023. The objective of the meeting was to review the implementation of trade facilitation reforms within the framework of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), as well as consider emerging issues related to the free movement of goods in the ECOWAS region.
Mr. Kolawole Sofola, Acting Director of Trade at the ECOWAS Commission, speaking on behalf of Madame Massandjé TOURE-LITSE, Commissioner for Economic Affairs & Agriculture, recalled the important role that trade facilitation plays in mitigating the disruptive effects of external shocks on supply chains. He further highlighted the efforts undertaken by the Commission to improve the movement of goods within the region, in line with the ECOWAS Vision 2050 and the Management’s “4×4” Strategic Objectives, with interventions in the areas of Transit, Transport and Institutional strengthening, amongst others.
Mr. Rikard Nordeman, Head of Trade and Economics Section, EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, congratulated ECOWAS for the measures to undertake trade facilitation reforms and support Trade Facilitation Committees. He recalled the EUR 25million EU Programme, implemented in collaboration with ECOWAS, GIZ and the World Bank, signifying the EU’s commitment to enhancing trade facilitation in the region. Recognizing ECOWAS as an important partner to the EU, he highlighted the mutual benefit derived from the deepening of trade activities and related infrastructure for both entities.
In this remarks, Mr Sunday JAJA, Director of Trade at the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, stated that the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) remains a critical instrument for improving border procedures, reducing trade costs, boosting trade flows and attracting greater benefits from international trade, through the simplification of customs procedures and other border processes. He expressed his appreciation to the ECOWAS for its support to Member States in the implementation of trade facilitation initiatives in order to reduce the time and cost of trading across border.
The meeting was attended by members of the RTFC Members representing the Ministry responsible for Trade, Customs Administration, and Private Sector from ECOWAS Member States. The meeting was also attend by representatives from the Ministry responsible for Transport. Over the 3 day meeting, participants discussed key issues affecting movement of goods in the region, including non-tariff barriers, gaps in the implementation of trade facilitation reforms, as well as coordination issues along the regional supply chain. The Committee also discussed the development of the Regional Trade and Transport Facilitation Strategy and the ECOWAS Non-Tariff Barriers Elimination Strategy. The meeting validated the terms of reference for the establishment of technical sub-committees on “Women in Trade”, “Border Management” and “Transparency” which will focus on priority areas identified.
The ECOWAS Regional Trade Facilitation Committee continues to play a pivotal role in promoting dialogue, coordination, and monitoring trade competitiveness within the region, furthering the agenda of fostering a resilient and competitive trading environment across its member states.