A Technical Working Group (TWG) comprising of focal points from Directorates of the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) recommended that regional and national strategies be developed in order to optimize the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) with the aim of boosting the economy of the region through trade.
In his remarks during the TWG meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, the representative of the ECOWAS Commissions’ Directorate of Trade, Mr. Kola Sofola stated that the TWG has been convened in order to deliberate on strategies to improve trade, investment and economic cooperation between ECOWAS and the United States of America (U.S.A).
Mr. Sofola highlighted the need for ECOWAS to take into consideration ways of implementing the AGOA and the ECOWAS-U.S Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).
‘The AGOA is a non-reciprocal trade preference program that grants eligible sub-Sahara African Countries duty-free, quota-free (DFQF) access to the United States while the TIFA is a platform for dialogue on initiatives for expanding trade and investment opportunities between ECOWAS and the U.S’, he said.
Mr. Sofola briefed the TWG on the status of the AGOA and the TIFA. He stated that following the 17th AGOA Ministerial forum which held in Washington D.C in July 2018, ECOWAS resolved to strengthen its cooperation with private sector associations in the region and deepen the dialogue of the future of African Trade.
He described the dialogue of the future of African trade as important since the AGOA which was initially authorized in 2000 to promote export-led growth and development in Africa will end in September 2025.
Regarding the TIFA, Mr. Sofola explained that the U.S has five Trade and Investment Framework Agreements with African regional economic organizations and eight bi-lateral TIFA partners in sub-Sahara Africa which include three ECOWAS Member States, Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria.
‘The ECOWAS-U.S TIFA which was signed in Washington D.C in August 2014 serves as a forum for the United States and ECOWAS to meet and discuss issues of mutual interest with the objective of improving cooperation and enhancing opportunities for trade and investment in the region’, he added.
The Technical Working Group in subsequent meetings will adopt its Terms of Reference which will enable it develop and implement strategies for ECOWAS to improve its economy by increasing trade and investment in West Africa.