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ECOWAS - The Economic Community of West African States – is a regional economic union of West African countries.
fr. CEDEAO – Communauté Économique des États de l'Afrique de l'Ouest
It includes 15 West African states: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
Headquarters: in Abuja (Nigeria). Date of creation: May 28, 1975.
The ultimate goal of ECOWAS is the creation of an economic union. In practice, ECOWAS is a common market.

Most of the regional integration associations in Africa were formed during 1950-60s, when African countries gained independence. External institutional support was important for the realization of integration in Africa. This was due to the lack of training and experience of the leaders of the African countries for effective management. In addition, the "domino effect" of Western European integration and dynamic integration processes in other regions, including developing countries, was a major impetus for the integration of African countries after independence (1950-60).
Therefore, the main peculiarity of the integration processes in Africa consisted of the direction of impetus to the economic rapprochement of states, stimulus for integration did not come from the African countries themselves, but from their "guardians" "from above": in colonial times these were metropolitan countries that sought to unify their colonies; and after its fall - from supranational institutions that helped them strengthen their won independence. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) played a leading role among them.
ECA urged African countries to pursue a policy of import substitution in order to reduce dependence on the outside world, "rely on their own forces," and accelerate economic development. Taking into account ECA recommendations, in 1963 the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was established (in 2002 it was renamed the African Union - AU). The OAU Charter was based on the regionalism and its strategic goal was creating a common African Union.
The proposed scheme for African integration and continental industrialization looked like the distribution of the continent to the regional integration zones that formed the united African economy. The ultimate goal was the creation of the African Economic Community (AEC) with a common market and common currency. As the main associations to which this continental project had to rely, ECA determined:
- in East and South Africa - the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA);
- in West Africa - the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS),
- in Central Africa - The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS),
- in North Africa - the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU, fr. - Union du Maghreb arabe - UMA).

History of ECOWAS
1964 - The President of Liberia, William Tubman, proposed the creation of an economic union of West Africa. As a result, in 1965, four states (Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone) signed an agreement.
1972 - the presidents of Nigeria (Yakubu Govon) and Togo (Gnassingbé Eyadéma) proposed the integration of the countries of West Africa, a corresponding integration project was developed.
In 1973, in Lomé (Togo), in 1974 in Monrovia (Liberia), summits of future member countries of the association were held.
May 28, 1975 - on the basis of the integration project of 1972, the Lagos Agreement on the Establishment of ECOWAS was signed. It was signed by 15 countries: 14 current members without Cape Verde, and also Mauritania. Cape Verde joined ECOWAS in 1976, Mauritania withdrew from it in December 2000.
November 1976 - in Lomé, protocols, providing for the start of the operation of ECOWAS, were signed.
In 1993, to accelerate the integration process, the Lagos Agreement was revised and a new ECOWAS agreement was signed. It concerned industrial, agrarian, transport, natural resources development, trade, and monetary and financial spheres.
June 2007 – the resolution of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government was adopted on the implementation of the transformation concept “ECOWAS Vision 2020” to improve the integration process in West Africa and improve its efficiency, it is scheduled to be implemented in 2020. The concept “ECOWAS Vision 2020” aims to improve the living standards of people through conscious and inclusive programs that will ensure the prosperity of the countries of West Africa. The major achievement in the development of the “ECOWAS Vision 2020” concept was that all interested parties, both governmental and non-governmental, participated in this process. The main idea of creating this concept is that it should be a document for people, it should push the process of integration and development of the region, people-centered and people-driven. This paradigm shift in approaches and institutional orientation is vital, its essence is that the region can create an environment where the business community and the public have a common vision and work together to realize the desire for human development, as well as achieving equitable and large-scale growth, sustainable development and poverty eradication.
May 2017 - Mauritania applied for the return to ECOWAS.
June 2017 - Morocco applied to join ECOWAS.

The objectives of ECOWAS
The 1975 Lagos Agreement on the Establishment of ECOWAS stipulated economic cooperation among members in various fields: industry, transport, telecommunications, energy, agriculture, natural resources, trade, monetary and financial sector; as well as the development of socio-cultural ties; and step-by-step creation of the customs union, common market, and then - the economic union.
The objectives of ECOWAS are to improve the living standards of the populations of the participating countries, to support and strengthen economic stability, good-neighborly relations among Member States, to promote the progress and development of the African continent. In addition to economic issues, the special role of ECOWAS was assigned to security issues: ensuring peace and security in "hot spots", combating crime and illicit proliferation of light small arms, disarmament, combating smuggling.
To fulfill the ECOWAS aims, the objectives and areas of integration were defined: establishment on the ECOWAS basis the federation of West African States; harmonization of industrial and agrarian policy in the framework of production cooperation; development of money-and-credit and currency-and-finance cooperation to expand mutual trade, the introduction of a single eco currency; the introduction of a unified passport (single citizenship) and the standardization of education diplomas to ensure the free movement of the population of member-countries with the possibility of employment; development of sea, fishing and ground infrastructure, creation of energy pool; ensuring peace, stability and security in the subregion.

Results of ECOWAS integration
Since January 1, 1990, the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) has been introduced to promote the West African region as a free trade area, in the future - for the formation of a customs union within the ECOWAS framework and later – an economic union (Board Decision Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS A / DEC.1 / 9/83 of 20 May 1983).
The ETLS is harmonized with the rules for trade liberalization of the UEMOA (it consists of 8 members).
The ETLS was supplemented by some articles of the revised 1993 ECOWAS Treaty.
In general, the new ECOWAS rules stipulate the abolition of duties and taxes with an equivalent effect on the products of member-states, the abolition of non-tariff barriers in the exchange of goods among member-states; use of agreed customs documents; introduction of the customs declaration and customs nomenclature on the basis of the harmonized system; organization of ECOWAS exhibitions.
A computerized customs data processing system ASYCUDA (Automated System for Customs Data) was created
To process the ECOWAS foreign trade statistics, EUROTRACE software was introduced, and also the database -, and later -;
To manage contacts between buyers and sellers the Trade Opportunities Management System (SIGOA-TOPS) system was introduced. Originally from 2005 it was intended for agricultural goods, but later it was extended to other groups of goods. Http://
As a first step in the implementation of the Customs Union, since January 1, 2015 the Common External Tariff (CET) for goods from third countries within ECOWAS has been introduced.
The fee is from 0 to 35% depending on the degree of processing of goods:
1) Essential social goods - 0%;
2) Basic raw materials and capital goods - 5%;
3) Intermediate goods – 10%;
4) Final consumer goods - 20%;
5) Specific goods for economic development - 35%.
In addition, ECOWAS Community Levy of 0.5% for goods from third countries is imposed to finance the activities of the ECOWAS Commission and Community institutions.

Movement of persons, development of human resources
To facilitate the movement of the population (especially, to search work) within ECOWAS, visas were revoked for citizens of the member-states and Biometric Identity Card (as unified passport) was introduced (decision AIDEC.01 / 12/14 of December 15, 2014, 46 ordinary session of heads of state and government). A travel certificate has been introduced (in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone).
In the field of education, the equivalence of diplomas and other education documents in the ECOWAS countries is recognized (general convention A / C. 1/1/03). To improve the quality of higher education and research, members of the ECOWAS allocate at least 1% of their GDP (Supplementary Act A / SA.1 / 12/14 of 15 December 2014 to the ECOWAS Treaty, signed on the basis of article 60 of the Treaty establishing ECOWAS Concerning cooperation on human resources).

Monetary and financial relations
Tax policy is harmonized; realization of payments is simplified; the West African Clearing House was transformed into a West African currency agency; the West African Credit Guarantee Fund was created for clearing and payments; non-tariff barriers in the monetary and financial sphere were abolished.
Monetary cooperation within the framework of ECOWAS is based on:
- The ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) - primarily for financing various ECOWAS projects and development programs;
- Ecobank Transnational Inc. (ETI) - Is a pan-African bank operating in 36 countries in Africa, in its western region it has offices in all 15 ECOWAS member-states for various financial transactions of juridical and Individual persons.
Methodological guidelines for the harmonization of public finance statistics – Public Finance Statistics were adopted, and also – Government Financial Operations Tables – TOFE, External Trade Statistics, Balance of Payments - BOP and International Investment Position.
The Ecolink project has been launched to improve and modernize the key operations in ECOWAS. The components Ecolink – Systems, Applications & Products - SAP – have been implemented to improve financial management and information systems in real time for effective decision making in the ECOWAS institutions

Within the framework of ECOWAS the macroeconomic, industrial, educational, trade policy is harmonized, and the ECOWAS Trade Development Strategy is formulated.
The ECOWAS institutions have been set up to manage ECOWAS activities, in particular, the ECOWAS Monetary Institute (EMI) - to implement the monetary union in the future.
Institutional reforms are under way which provide the basis for ECOWAS management. An additional protocol on democracy and good governance has been adopted, which requires the implementation of political conditions regarding the terms of presidential authority and provides various measures in the unconstitutional seizure of power.

ECOWAS Regional Projects
For the development of agriculture and livestock within ECOWAS seed production centres have been set up in 9 member-states and 8 factory livestock production centres in three countries – Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger; Networks are being managed to use effective and safe pesticides; the ECOWAS certificate of transhumance of livestock was introduced; joint struggle with an epizooty (diseases of animals) is carried out.
Measures to promote strategic products for ensuring food security and sovereignty are being taken, including fighting livestock disease at crossing a border. The regional centre for disease control has been established.

For the development of industry, in 2010 ECOWAS adopted the General Industrial Plan; and it was implemented more than 60 projects approved at the forum of investors.
For the development of the regional energy market and the corresponding legal and regulatory framework appropriate projects are being developed.
- The additional ECOWAS act has been signed regarding the Dakar-Abidjan corridor for the regional electricity supply project. The project covers Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
- The project to create West African gas pipeline was Implemented and launched in 2010. It passes in the Gulf of Guinea to supply gas from Nigeria in the direction of the west to Benin, Togo and Ghana.
- The “West Africa Power Pool” was established; Ecological expertise was introduced; The General Plan for the Development of Energy Production Capabilities was adopted; solar map was worked out; power grids are combined to provide member-states with a deficit of electricity from countries where it is in overplus, in particular, the supply of electricity from Ghana to neighboring countries - Benin, Nigeria and Togo – was realized.
- In 2013 program the emergency power supply of Conakry was implemented and three other emergency programs were implemented: (i) an emergency program for the supply of electricity to Grand Banjul, (ii) an emergency program for the supply of electricity to Freetown and (Iii) a special program for Mali .
- The ECOWAS Centre on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) has developed a Directive on Energy Efficiency Policies. Appropriate technologies and services in the field of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency are used hhtp://

To develop transport links within the framework of ECOWAS a transnational highway from Lagos (Nigeria) to Nouakchott (Mauritania), from Dakar (Senegal) to N'Djamena (Chad in Central Africa) (in total 11,000 km) has been built; in the process of realizing (until 2020) a large-scale project for the construction of new railways - from Lagos to Dakar along the Atlantic coast, from Abidjan (Cote d'Ivoire) to Dakar via Bamako (Mali) and from Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) To Niamey (Niger); transport regulations in the member-states are harmonized; the shipping company Ecomarine International was established, in September 2003 its first ship was launched. The regional center for aircraft maintenance was established; databases / information system-observatory have been created.
In 1982, the ECOWAS Brown Card Insurance Scheme was created – similar to the Green Card Scheme in Europe, which was established in 1953. The main objective of the scheme is to guarantee to the victims of road accident a prompt and fair compensation of damages caused by non resident motorist from ECOWAS member-states visiting their territory. This ECOWAS insurance system functions through a network of 14 national Bureaus distributed in fourteen member-states

For the development of telecommunications several projects have been implemented: the INTELCOM I – establishment of a telephone, telex and fax direct connection between member-states, and the telecommunications Centre in Lomé (Togo); and INTELCOM II – modernization of communications between member-states on the basis of new technologies.

For the protection of the environment within ECOWAS, displacement and storage of toxic waste was banned; control over the spread of floating algae have been established; joint struggle against desertification is conducted; National Meteorological Services operate; measures for rational and effective use of resources are being taken.

Work is under way to maintain peace and security in the region. Protocols about non-aggression (1978) and abut mutual assistance in defense matters were adopted (1981); ECOWAS peace-keeping force s– ECOMOG were established (1990); the moratorium on the import, export and manufacture of small arms was introduced (1998); the mechanism for conflict prevention, management and resolution was implemented (1999) – it is realized by the Council of Elders and by the Security and Mediation Council, which consists of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal , Togo; the negotiations on peace and security issues in "hot spots" (Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali) are being carried out; protocols about democracy and good governance and about combating corruption were adopted. Regional Border Management Manual was developed for use in training on immigration / security issues. The Sahel Strategy and the Sahel Regional Action Plan (RAP) has been developed with the assistance of the EU. Sahel Strategy and RAP focus on the regional security and development. g

For the development of social relations, including education, sports and culture, the program "The Decade of Education of West Africa" has been prepared; the ECOWAS Prize for Best Practices on the African Pharmacopoeia (a set of official standards and regulations for the quality of medicinal raw materials) and literature was established; the Forum of associations recognized in ECOWAS was established; the ECOWAS tournament on African wrestling was founded; the ECOWAS Youth Forum was organized; the Center for Gender Development was established; the ECOWAS Gender Policy was adopted; the West African Women's Forum was organized. An important contribution to the development of social relations within ECOWAS was the creation of the West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF). With the support of the ECOWAS Commission, the WACSOF is implementing the National Platform Strengthening Program, expanding the knowledge base of civil society in order to involve it in wider participation in the implementation of ECOWAS integration. Thereto the WACSOF theme groups on issues of democratic governance, peace and security, agriculture and food security, health, women and gender equality, youth, employment, give consultations and research in relevant fields

Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between West African countries and EU
The main objective of the West Africa – European Union EPA is the establishment of a free trade area between Europe and West Africa (ECOWAS + Mauritania) in accordance with Article XXIV of GATT, through the gradual removal of trade restrictions between the two trade partners.
The EPA is intended to foster the smooth and gradual integration of ACP States into the world economy, with due regard for their political choices and development priorities, thereby promoting their sustainable development and contribution to poverty eradication.
EPA negotiations were officially launched at an all ACP level on 27 September 2002. In the West African region, the negotiations between EU and WA took off on 4 August 2004 following the launch of the Accra Road Map. WA – EU negotiations of an EPA were concluded on 30 June 2014 with the initialing of an agreed text by Chief Negotiators.
In July 2014, the ECOWAS Heads of State endorsed the EPA and opened it up for signature by Member States. To date, 13 out of 16 West African States have signed the Agreement. Only The Gambia, Nigeria and Mauritania have not yet signed.
The regional agreement covers trade in goods and development-cooperation. It contains a rendezvous clauses for future negotiations on trade in services and other trade-related issues.
• Duty free quota free access into EU for all imports from West Africa
• Asymmetric and gradual opening of West Africa market to EU goods. West Africa committed to liberalise 75% of imports from the EU over a period of 20 years.
• Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary measures aiming, inter alia, to promote health and safety, as well intra-regional harmonisation of measures with international standards
• Asymmetric Rules of Origin taking into account the different levels of development of the two Parties
• Possibility to change the West Africa’s tariff commitments of based on special needs of common sectoral policies;
• Commitment by the EU and its member States to fund the EPA Development Programme (EPADP) over period at least equivalent to the liberalisation of trade in Good from West Africa;
• Maintaining the regional integration autonomous funding mechanism of West Africa, until the establishment of a new mechanism ;
• Commitment by European Union Party to refrain from the use of export subsidies for agricultural products exported to West Africa
• Establishment of joint bodies for management and monitoring of implementation of the Agreement promoting the involvement of all stakeholders;
• Commitment to strengthening of administrative and customs cooperation to facilitate trade development;
• Trade Defence measures protect regional production to threats due to liberalization;
• Support for agricultural policies to strengthen agricultural sectors and ensure food security;
• Deepening cooperation in the area of sustainable management of fishery resources;
• Establishment of a Dispute settlement mechanism
• Provisions relating to the duration of the agreement, its entry into force and revision of the agreement.
• Establishment of a dialogue on tax reform and absorption of the net fiscal impact resulting from the liberalization
• Rendezvous clause to continue negotiations on trade in Services and other trade related issues

Introduction of a single currency
One of ECOWAS objectives for the future was to introduce a single eco currency into use. It was planned that this currency will first be introduced in the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ), and later the WAMZ with the eco currency will be combined with the CFA franc zone. The CFA franc is the single currency of the UEMOA association (as well as CEMAC in Central Africa) since 1945, has a fixed exchange rate with the euro, is supported by the French treasury. WAEMU consists of French-speaking countries of West Africa, except Guinea and Mauritania, and also includes the portuguese-speaking Guinea-Bissau. It was expected that the merger of the eco and the franc CFA zones should provide the countries of Western as well as Central Africa with a single stable currency.
WAMZ formed in 2000 the English-speaking Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and French-speaking Guinea. In 2010 they were joined by Liberia. To launch this currency the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI in Accra (the capital of Ghana) and the Stabilization and Cooperation Fund (SCF) were established.
The eco-currency in the WAMZ should be strong and stable. To implement the eco currency, countries that plan to use it must satisfy ten criteria. These criteria were formulated by the West African Monetary Institute and approved in 2002 at the Forum of Ministers of Finance of WAMZ. These are the four primary convergence criteria: 1) achieve and maintain price stability by recording single digit end of period inflation rate by 2003 and 5 percent by 2004; 2) fiscal deficit is not more than 4% of GDP; 3) limit Central Bank financing of government budget deficit as a percent of previous year’s tax revenue to 10 percent or less throughout the period 2003–2005; 4) maintain sufficient level of gross official foreign exchange reserves of at least 3 months of import cover throughout the period 2003–2005; as well as six secondary convergence criteria: 1) prohibition of new domestic arrears and liquidation of existing ones; 2) tax revenue to GDP ratio equal to or greater that 20 percent; 3) wage bill to tax revenue ratio equal to or less than 35 percent; 4) public investment to tax revenue equal to or greater than 20 percent; 5) maintain real exchange rate stability; 6) positive real interest rate.
Throughout the period 2001–2009 only two countries, Gambia and Nigeria, satisfy all four primary criteria in 2007 and 2008 and only Gambia satisfies all criteria in 2008 and 2009.
It was planned that after implementation of the above-mentioned requirements by the WAMZ member countries, the eco will be introduced in 2003, but this time was postponed - first for 2005, then - for 2009, then - for 2015, then - for 2020.

Summarizing, it can be concluded that, although in ECOWAS some integration projects are not implemented in the entire subregion, in spite of this, the process of rapprochement between member-states of this association is actively under way. In its essence, it is a common market.
Certain disintegrating factors hinder more effective functioning of ECOWAS, as in other regions of the continent: the membership of many of its countries in other associations with similar projects; a cumbersome institutional structure that hinders the development of coherent cooperation, and significant financial costs for its maintenance. Its institutional structure is formed by the Conference of Heads of State, the Council of Ministers, ECOWAS Commission, the Parliament, the Court, the Economic and Social Council, the West African Health Organization ECOWAS, the ECOWAS Investment and Development Bank, the ECOWAS Regional Development Fund, the West African Monetary Agency, the West African Monetary Institute, six departments in various areas of work: 1) human resources management; 2) education, science and culture; 3) energy and mining; 4) telecommunications and IT; 5) industry; 6) promotion of the private sector. In addition, there are numerous committees and working groups in the ECOWAS structure, the total number of which is more than 100, which creates great difficulties in coordinating decisions on important issues of the association. To improve the functioning of ECOWAS, institutional reform was carried out, for the first time - in 1993 when reviewing the agreement on the establishment of the association, the second time in 2007, then the Secretariat was transformed into the Commission, but it remains weakly effective.