Dignitaries at the opening Ceremony of the Cross-Border Trade Forum
West African Food Market Programme (WAFM) held its maiden Regional Cross-Border Food Trade Conference in Abuja from 15-16 May 2018, on the theme ‘Deepening Regional Food Trade Integration in West Africa.’ The forum brought together 75 participants from the private sector (including WAFM Grantees) as well as public sector and representatives from regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The WAFM Cross-Border Trade Conference examined the drivers and trends shaping staple foods trade across West Africa and reviewed the most important regional policies that intend to promote West African trade and agricultural development for food security and focus on the main challenges for their implementation.
Participants at the forum agreed that though policy framework (such as the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) and Common External Tariff CET) for cross-border trade in the region existed, there were still challenges at the regional, country and enterprise levels that need to be addressed in promoting regional trade. Key discussions and recommendations include:
- WAFM collaboration with Borderless Alliance on cross border trade and custom procedures and continued dialogue with ECOWAS on Common Agriculture Policy to improve agribusiness finance
- Continued advocacy with policy makers including monitoring of cases of violations of laws and non-compliance with regional agreements backed by recourse to sanctions to strengthen liberalization efforts in West Africa.
- The scaling up of the proposed new Food Trade Resilience (FTR) programme should take into account recommendations from the conference and ensure consultations with ECOWAS agricultural business and agricultural trade stakeholders to ensure a larger scale and more appropriately designed programme.
- The need to assist businesses including Grantees to get their product approved under the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS)
- ECOWAS Commission should to ensure the enforcement of its protocols prohibiting trade bans by member states;
- WAFM should commission study/survey on the volume of cross-border trade with special focus on local indigenous companies.
Dr. Terrence Lacey, Team Leader of WAFM, giving remarks at the Cross-Border Trade Forum