West Africa: ECOWAS Experts Meet to Consider Draft Offer On the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

The ECOWAS Commission has ended the Seventh (7th) Regional Meeting on the draft ECOWAS Offer on the Trade in Services Protocol under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Opening the meeting, the Director of Bilateral, Regional and Multilateral Trade at the Ministry of Trade & Industry of the Republic of Ghana, Mr. Mickson OPOKU, expressed appreciation to the ECOWAS Commission for its support in building the capacity of Member States to effectively negotiate the Trade in Services.

He underscored the critical role of the services sector to the development of both national and regional economies, and enjoined participants to work hard to finalize their Offers taking into account expectations of their respective countries and the overall objectives of the region.

On behalf of Mr. Tèi KONZI, ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs & Free Movement, Mr. Kolawole SOFOLA, Acting Director of Trade, highlighted the support provided by the ECOWAS Commission to its Member States, such as technical assistance and capacity building, to ensure their draft Offers in the five (5) priority Sectors on Trade in Services are in line with the modalities of the negotiations as well as ensuring that the regional acquis is preserved.

Mr. Desiree LOUMOU, Senior Expert - Trade in Services at the AfCFTA Secretariat, on behalf of Mrs. Emily MBURU, Director of Trade in Services at the AfCFTA Secretariat, commended the ECOWAS Commission and its Member States for their active participation in the negotiation process, and for submitting their Initial Offers in the five (5) priority Sectors on Trade in Services. He reiterated the commitment of the AfCFTA Secretariat to support African Union (AU) Member States including ECOWAS in the finalization of their Offers.

The 7th Regional meeting reviewed the draft ECOWAS Offer for the AfCFTA Trade in Services negotiations and held bilateral sessions between ECOWAS Commission and Member States to address the various technical issues to ensure they are compliant with agreed modalities and guidelines of the AfCFTA negotiations, as well as consider requests from third parties.

The meeting was attended by Trade in Services Experts from ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania; Officials from the ECOWAS and WAEMU Commissions; and representatives from the AfCFTA Secretariat.

Forty-two (42) African countries are now State Parties to the Agreement on the AfCFTA. Forty (40) State and Seven (7) non-State Parties have submitted their Offers. The five (5) Trade in Services priority sectors are Business Services; Communication Services; Financial Services; Tourism and Travel-Related Services; and Transport Services.

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