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ECOWAS and ITC Launch West African Competitiveness Observatory to Boost Regional Exports

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Policymakers and businesses in West Africa now have access to a powerful online tool designed to enhance trade competitiveness and uncover new business opportunities within the region.

The West African Competitiveness Observatory, launched by the ECOWAS Commission and the International Trade Centre (ITC) with financial backing from the European Union (EU), aims to drive economic growth by tapping into the region’s largely unrealized export potential.

Unveiled at a high-level event on May 21, the Observatory addresses the significant untapped intraregional export potential in West Africa, estimated at $3.2 billion. This new platform allows for comprehensive tracking and analysis of trade competitiveness, positioning West Africa as a region with greater export competitiveness internally than elsewhere on the continent or in global markets.

Key Features of the West African Competitiveness Observatory

The Observatory comprises three main modules, each offering distinct functionalities for policymakers and businesses:

  1. Trade Competitiveness Module:
    • Provides detailed monitoring and analysis of trade competitiveness at global, continental, and regional levels.
    • Enables users to compare trade data and identify areas for improvement and growth.
  2. Regional Value Chain Module:
    • Assesses and integrates regional value chains, focusing on five critical sectors: apparel and textiles; beauty, wellness, and personal care products; food preparations for infants; processed fish and crustacean products; and processed fruits, vegetables, and roots.
    • Offers insights to help businesses and policymakers optimize regional value chains and boost productivity.
  3. Business Matchmaking Module:
    • Facilitates cross-border business collaboration by promoting products and services across the region.
    • Features automatic translation in English, French, and Portuguese, enabling seamless communication among businesses.
    • Aims to connect buyers and suppliers, fostering new partnerships and business ventures.

Impact and Benefits

Massandjé Toure-Litse, Commissioner of Economic Affairs and Agriculture at the ECOWAS Commission, highlighted the Observatory’s role in providing crucial information to policymakers and businesses, thereby enhancing their ability to leverage international markets. This support is particularly valuable for small businesses, which are vital for generating employment and driving economic growth.

ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton emphasized the Observatory’s potential to unlock the region’s untapped trade opportunities, urging policymakers and businesses to utilize the tool to realize tangible economic benefits.

Future Prospects

The launch of the Observatory is timely, as West Africa faces the challenges of globalization, technological advancement, and an evolving trade landscape. The platform is poised to position West Africa as a significant hub of economic growth and opportunities on the global stage. ITC’s export potential estimates suggest that West Africa could add $45.7 billion in exports by 2027, underscoring the transformative impact the Observatory could have on the region’s economic trajectory.

By leveraging the Observatory’s capabilities, West African countries and businesses can drive substantial economic growth, fostering a more competitive and interconnected regional economy.

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