‘Need for greater intra-Ecowas trade’
Members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) recently met to discuss the investment climate scorecard targeted at unlocking investment in the region. In a chat with CNBC Africa, Kalilou Traore, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Industry and Private Sector Promotion, spoke on the need for more formal trading in the region and Morocco’s integration into the organisation.
In the area of economic integration, our aim to create a regional common market regarding trade, industrialization, investment and many other issues in different sectors. We noticed that one of the biggest challenges is the investment ratio. The gap of investment in our region is very huge. An estimation of our need may be around $45 to $50 billion every year. Right now we don’t have $10 billion so we need to find a way to promote investment and this is why the scorecard as a tool was developed based on all the new knowledge on investment promotion and specific area to address the issue. Formal trade is very important in that region maybe as a result of all this barriers and maybe also a result of the lack of investment. If you don’t have structural investment the informal trade will grow and develop. So we think that through this kind of programs, removing barriers and allowing investment to flow into structural programs, we can better overcome informal trade progressively.
Why has Morocco been allowed to join ECOWAS and are there more plans for expansion in the future ?
It is the normal progress also to go into the enlargement phase, even if we have seen a lot of work to be done at the regional level, we also have this enlargement phase, when you take other communities like the EU they also went through these phases. They started at six and today they are 27. Talking about Morocco, Morocco already has many relations with the region. Morocco has one of the most investors in the region and we think that this enlargement may bring more investment, and more opportunities for Morocco but as well as for our ECOWAS countries. It’s something new and we have a lot of work to do. It is not saying that on one day Morocco will come fully, it will be scheduled with an intelligent panel that can bring benefits from each part of this association. So it’s the new era for ECOWAS, we start with Morocco, we may also have Tunisia, Mauritania may come again and maybe other head of states will have to appreciate but we have a lot of technical work to be done again in order to bring benefits to make it a win-win enlargement process.
What is ECOWAS working on now?
We are working on many areas based on the experience of all the communities and based on our realities. We have mobilized our technical teams in our Abuja headquarters and elsewhere to work on this. We also work with all the agencies like World Bank, IFC, African Development Bank and others to take benefit from their experiences. We have done a lot of progress, when you take the internal trade in the region, the rate is low, around 10 to 12 per cent but in reality the volume of the trade has been increasing by five percent over the last ten years. The rate of global trade is low because during the last ten years the price of raw materials was very high. So you couldn’t feel really the growth of the internal trade but we are making progress at the regional level of trade.