By Lawrence Audu
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with support from the African Union (AU) and the German Cooperation (GIZ) are holding the second capacity building workshop on stakeholders’ engagement on African Trade Policies and ECOWAS Regional Trade Policy Dialogue Forum in Abuja, Nigeria from the 24th to 27th of April, 2019.
The four-day workshop aims to train and build the capacity of ECOWAS Member States and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in stakeholder engagement on trade and trade-related policies as well as in the formulation, negotiation and implementation of trade policies.
The Director of Trade of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Gbenga Obideyi in his speech highlighted the role of ECOWAS as one of the building blocks of the African Economic Community. This he said is evident as 13 out of 15 Member States have already signed the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which will establish the world’s largest free trade area.
Speaking at the opening, the Acting Director, Department of Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission Mr. Husseini Hassan represented by Mr. Jean Bertrand Azapmo, the Regional Trade Adviser, Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission said that the multi-stakeholder approach of the workshop is to ensure the inclusivity and inclusiveness of trade policy-making and implementation process. As he said “government officials alone, let a handful of stakeholders, cannot handle trade policy development, formulation and implementation”.
The representative of the Ministry of Trade of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mr. Jonathan Ubani expressed Nigeria’s readiness to sign the AfCFTA as Nigeria he said was involved in the process of the formulation of the agreement.
Ioana Lungu an Advisor of GIZ’s Support to the AfCFTA stressed the importance of comprehensive stakeholder involvement as the basis for sound public policy. She added that by involving people from different walks of life into the process of policy making can an agreement be truly inclusive.