A Regional Cross-Border Trade Forum with the theme “Deepening Food Trade Integration in West Africa” is scheduled to hold from May 15th to 16th May, 2018 at the Ibeto Hotel, Gudu, Abuja.
The Forum will discuss issues on Tariff and Para-Tariffs, Experience sharing, Regional trade protocols, business and networking opportunities, documentation delays and illicit payments and Digital trade among others.
Studies have shown that commodities exports are not diversified and characterized by heavy reliance on extractive products (petroleum, and natural gas) in ECOWAS states. Agriculture exports constitute 10% of total exports with 60% out of this 10% representing cocoa production.
On the other hand, imports are diversified with a high share of industrialized products (Vehicles, refined petroleum, ships, telecommunications technology, industrial equipment, medicines) and food products. Hence, the ECOWAS state’s major trading partners are industrialized nations (China, India, USA, EU countries and Brazil).
These countries buy raw materials from and sell industrialized products to the sub-region. Based on trade figures, Nigeria accounts for 75% of ECOWAS region exports primarily because of petroleum and its large economy, the country also has the largest share of ECOWAS imports (52%) and food imports (51%). Ghana and Cote D Ivoire are the second and third largest economies in the region and constitute the main food exporters due to cocoa, followed by Nigeria.
Export earnings have given the region the resources to finance a growing share of food imports (according to official UNCTAD statistics; rice, wheat, processed food, fish, sugar, milk products, vegetable,) with a fast-growing population that needs to be fed and changing consumption patterns, following a strong urbanization and growing middle class without corresponding local food supply has left the region continuously import dependent. The trade integration remains the major key to transforming these current dynamics in the region.
However, the notion of cross border trade among member states of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been hampered by; Export restrictions, check points, delays, illicit charges, poor transport networks, non-commitment to implementation and monitoring of regional protocols (ETLS and CET).
It is against this background, Palladium Group, the implementer of the UKAid funded West Africa Food Market (WAFM) Programme is organizing its maiden edition of Regional Cross Border Trade Forum on May 15 – 16, 2018 in Abuja, Nigeria with the theme “Deepening Regional Food Trade Integration in West Africa”.
WAFM aims for growth in supply of staple foods, particularly cereals, and in the purchasing power of farmers in food-insecure Sahelian countries, strengthening resilience against periodic food-deficit shocks and contributing to prosperity, stability and security.
This is to be achieved via increased food production (yield increases and/or reduction in post-harvest losses) and cross-border trade along the Ghana-Burkina Faso and Niger-Nigeria trade corridors, thereby lowering seasonal price volatility in selected food markets.
The programme is made up of two components, a Policy Facility and a Challenge Fund.
The aim of the forum is to discuss the barriers that distort the free-flow of staple food trade and find innovate solutions to these challenges through multi-stakeholder dialogue and leveraging on the experiences from other ECOWAS countries. In specific terms, the forum would: – Examine the drivers and trends shaping the future of agribusiness trade across West Africa – Review of 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 – Discuss strategies for collection of quality trade data for designing and implementing policies – Enable traders share their experiences on regional trade – Discuss strategies to respond to regulatory challenges in short-medium and long terms – Enlighten participants on the regional customs and trade provisions – Review of monitoring mechanism to check the activities of border officials. – Examine national trade policies (Export and Import Restrictions) that hamper food trade.
Expected Outcome – Identify key areas for current favorable trade-policies enforcement and reforms on regional policies that promote food trade and agricultural development – Understanding of regional customs and trade provisions by officials and private sector operators – Devise strategies to curb the prevalence of informal food trade – Identify methods to simplify custom procedures to facilitate the flow of food trade – Blue print on quality trade data collection via trade-mapping