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’Unrealistic timetable hinders Ecowas’ conclusion on EPA’

Daily Independent, Lagos

’Unrealistic Timetable Hinders Ecowas’ Conclusion On EPA’

By Christopher Adedeji

9 December 2008

West Africa civil society platform of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) has said unrealistic timetable constituted the main constraint facing the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in reaching a conclusion on the agreement.

EPA is an agreement on trade between the European Union and ECOWAS.

The civil society platform’s position is its own contribution to the work of the Ministerial Monitoring Committee (MMC) in Banjul based on the conclusions and recommendations of the regional dialogue held in Abuja.

Since the expiration of the deadline for the conclusion of EPA between the European Union (EU) and ECOWAS on December 31, 2007, many initiatives have been taken in the West Africa region.

According to President of the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS), Ken Ukaoha, a non-state actor in the negotiation, the initiatives were taken at both national and regional levels to draw lessons from the negotiating process which has been under way for several years.

The initiatives are also to identify adoptable strategies for the implementation of EPA in future.

In January, Heads of State in West Africa met in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, to express their willingness to work for unity and regional solidarity to enhance integration, growth and development of the region.

The civil society platform has, however, called on policy makers and leaders in the ECOWAS region for more commitment towards achieving greater coherence and unity between UEMOA and ECOWAS whose parallel development has led to separate initiatives.