ECONOMIC INTEGRATION, FREE MOVEMENT OF PERSONS AND TRADE LIBERALIZATION: MEASURESFOR ECOWAS MEMBER-STATES TRADE DEVELOPMENT

Adewumi Eyitayo Folasade (PhD), Aborisade Daniel Atilade

Abstract


The current global trend is for groups of contiguous states to pull their resources together under a regional cooperation for the well-being of their citizens. This was one of the reasons that led to the formation of ECOWAS in 1975. In furtherance to her developmental drive, ECOWAS adopted several protocols such as economic integration, freedom of persons and goods, ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) among others to ensure development in the of trade and economic sectors.. This study is qualitative and adopted phenomenal research design. Purposive sampling technique was used to select 20 interviewees in Niger Republic and Nigeria. Instrument used for the study was an interview guide. Twenty interviews were conducted with senior staff of the ECOWAS secretariat, Abuja, Nigeria’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Niger Republic’s Ministry of Foreign affairs, Cooperation and Africa Integration. The data were thematically discussed and content analysed. The study found that Economic integration, free movement of persons and goods and trade liberalization has contributed to the growth and economic development and trade among ECOWAS member-states. It was also found out that ECOWAS has not invested enough to develop some sectors of member states through the free movement of persons and goods, economic integration and trade liberalization. In addition, lack of political will, refusal to fully implement the ECOWAS policies and protocols, language barrier, and colonial differences as challenges to the implementation of the policies and protocols. The study concluded that while there exists appreciable development in trade and economic sectors of the ECOWAS member-states, ECOWAS has not developed workable mechanisms to fully implement the policies and protocols. It also recommended that ECOWAS should review the provisions of the schemes, policies and protocols to meet up with current economic needs of her member-states.


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