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ECOWAS Adopts Regional Industrial Policy

June 4, 2010

Economic Community of West African States
Ecowas Council of Ministers Adopts Regional Industrial Policy, Calls for Speedy Implementation of Plan of Action

3 June 2010

Abuja – Nigeria — The ECOWAS Council of Ministers has adopted the West African Common Industrial Policy (WACIP), its action plan and supplementary acts and called on the ECOWAS Commission to take all necessary steps to ensure their speedy implementation.

The three documents are based on a global vision that will enable Member States benefit from their comparative advantages and complementarities. WACIP, in particular, seeks to diversify and broaden the region’s industrial production base by progressively raising the local content of such products to an average of 30 per cent by 2030 though support for the creation of new industrial production capacities and the development and upgrading of the existing ones. It is also aimed at progressively increasing the manufacturing industry’s contribution to the regional gross domestic product (GDP) to an average of over 20 per cent in 2030, from its current average of between six and seven per cent.

The policy is designed to help improve intra-Community trade from the present 13 per cent to 40 per cent by 2030 and increase the volume of exports of manufactured goods from West Africa to the global market from the current 0.1 per cent to one per cent by 2030. This will be done through the enhancement and development of skills, industrial competitiveness and quality infrastructure, particularly in the areas of information, communication and transport. The Council, which ended its three-day mid-year meeting late on Wednesday, 2nd June 2010 in Abuja after reviewing various programmes and activities of the institutions of the Community, also adopted the reports of the President of the ECOWAS Commission, the Financial Controller, the preceding meeting of the Administration and Finance Committee, the 8th Ad Hoc Ministerial Committee on GIABA and the meeting of the Ministers in charge of Defence and Security, among others.

The 2010 Interim Report of the Commission’s President gave an overview of recent economic developments in the world economy and their implications for Africa, particularly West Africa, the regional economic performance, a progress report on the implementation of Community work programmes between November 2009 and May 2010, the challenges and the way forward in 2010 and beyond. The Council, which is an organ of the Community and composed of ministers responsible for ECOWAS affairs in Member States, also adopted the recommendations of the Administration and Finance Committee (AFC). These included the supplementary budgets for ECOWAS disaster response in Member States, the GIABA anti-money laundering projects, the ECOWAS Commission’s programmes in education, labour and employment, the rehabilitation of the Commission’s headquarters and the 10th anniversary celebration of the Community Court of Justice which comes up later in 2010. Furthermore, the Council endorsed the report of the 11th Ordinary Assembly of Health Ministers of ECOWAS, which include a resolution on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases, the harmonization of curricula for the training of nurses and midwives, the integration of primary eye care into primary health care, the road map for universal access to malaria control products and the regional framework to accelerate the reduction of maternal and child mortality in ECOWAS Member States.

The ministers also endorsed the recommendation of the Ministerial Monitoring Committee (MMC) on the negotiation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) for the creation of a free trade area between West Africa and Europe. The Council urged the West African negotiators to protect the interest of the region to enable the EPA function as a tool for development in accordance with the directives of regional leaders. The MMC’s report and recommendations highlighted outstanding issues such as the EPA Development Programme, the rules of origin and protocol on mutual administrative assistance, Community levies, Most Favoured Nation and Non- execution clauses, market access offer and the determination of net fiscal impact, the ECOWAS Common External Tariff, hub and capacity building project and the Aid-for-Trade issue. The Council set up a three-member ad hoc committee composed of Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria to propose a mechanism for the rotation of the positions of President, Vice President, Commissioners of the ECOWAS Commission, the Financial Controller, the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament and Judges of the Community Court of Justice. The committee is also mandated to make recommendations for the posts and draw up a schedule of rotation of the Chairmanship of the Authority of Heads of State and Government. They also agreed on a draft agenda for the 38th ordinary session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government which will take place on 3rd July 2010 on the Island of Sal in Cape Verde.

The summit will be followed by a special ECOWAS-Brazil Summit of Heads of State in June 2010 also in Cape Verde. In his welcome address at the opening of the Council meeting on Monday, 31st May 2010, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Aliyu Idi Hong, hailed the impressive turn-out of ministers as “a clear indication of our unflinching commitment to carry our regional organization to an enviable height that could address the myriads of challenges facing ECOWAS region at this time”. He stated that under the Chairmanship of Nigeria, the region had recorded some measure of success in the areas of peace and stability as well as economic development in virtually all spheres within the region, as testified by the region’s mediatory efforts in Guinea Bissau and Guinea. While stating that the West African region is facing serious food, energy and financial crises, he said it was only through concerted action and collaboration that these problems could be solved by re-energizing the integration process in the region.

Through ECOWAS, he said, the region has recorded some measure of success in the area of implementation of Community programmes which will fast-track regional integration in virtually all the key areas. He argued that it is only through this rapid socio-economic transformation that our sub-regional organization would be able to realize its dream and aspirations of transforming it from an ECOWAS of States to an ECOWAS of peoples by the year 2020. In his opening remarks, the President of the Commission, Ambassador James Victor Gbeho, who was attending his first meeting of the Council since assuming duty three months ago, expressed optimism that consistent with a 35- year tradition, both old and new members of the Council would work together as a coherent team towards the attainment of Community objectives and the achievement of the Strategic Vision 2020 of ECOWAS. Ambassador Gbeho also called for a one-minute silence to be observed in honour of the late President of Nigeria and last Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who died earlier in the year.

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