ECOWAS TPO Network Holds 4th Consultative Meeting In Preparation For 2nd AGM

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The ECOWAS Trade Promotion Organization (TPO) Network held its 4th consultative meeting at Azalaï Hotel in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, on 29th and 30th March 2022 to consider the Network’s 2022-2023 Workplan and Trade-Related Technical Assistance (TRTA) Programme document.

The event was organised in collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission and the International Trade Centre (ITC).

In his opening remarks, Dr. Ezra YAKUSAK, CEO of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and President of the ECOWAS TPO Network, thanked the Government of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire for their warm reception, then welcomed participants to the meeting. He expressed his satisfaction with the level of implementation of activities since the last Annual General Meeting (AGM) in July 2021.

He thanked the ECOWAS Commission and the ITC for their continuing support in the operationalisation of the Network and called on all members to ensure their effective engagement in its activities.

In his remarks, Mr. Kolawole SOFOLA, Acting Director of Trade, on behalf of Mr. Tei KONZI, Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement, recalled the importance of trade as an instrument for deepening regional integration, and creating employment.

The ECOWAS Commission has a number of flagship programmes which could be enhanced by the work of the Network. He concluded his statement by thanking the European Union and ITC for their financial and technical support.

On behalf of Ms. Pamela COKE-HAMILTON, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC), Ms. Miyoba LUBEMBA, Senior Programme Officer, thanked the European Union and the ECOWAS Commission for the trust placed in ITC to support the establishment and operationalisation of the network. ITC has more than 50 years of experience in building the capabilities of Trade Promotion Organizations to deliver tangible results in export development and promotion.

The Consultative meeting considered key documents including the Report on Activities undertaken since the last AGM held on 15-16 July 2021 in Abuja, Nigeria; the Proposed Activities for the four (4) ECOWAS TPO Network Technical Committees in charge of (i) Trade Policies and Strategies, (ii) Financial Affairs and Resource Mobilization, (iii) Trade Promotion Events, (iv) Communication & Marketing; and the Proposed ECOWAS TPO Network Programme document.

The presentations by the ECOWAS Commission on the ECOWAS Vision 2050 and existing regional trade facilitation initiatives, as well as ITC on trade promotion related tools developed within the framework of the West Africa Competitiveness programme (WACOMP), provided guidance towards planned activities of the Network.

Key recommendations from the meeting included the need to: (i) ensure the alignment of the ECOWAS TPO network workplan with the ECOWAS Vision 2050; (ii) support regional trade promotion initiatives driven by the ECOWAS Commission; (iii) undertake capacity building activities for members of the Network as well as key stakeholders; (iv) Finalise the resource mobilisation strategy and (v)ensure the participation of the ECOWAS TPO Network in the World Trade Promotion Organisations Conference and Awards to be held in Accra, Ghana in May 2022 and the upcoming IATF 2023 scheduled on November 2023 in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire).

The meeting of the ECOWAS TPO Network was chaired by Dr. Ezra YAKUSAK, Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and President of the ECOWAS TPO Network, with the support from Mr. Guy M’BENGUE, Chief Executive Officer of Côte d’Ivoire Export Promotion Agency (APEX-CI) and Vice President of the ECOWAS TPO Network. The meeting was attended by the Heads of Export Promotion Agencies of the ECOWAS region, as well as representatives from the ECOWAS Commission and ITC.

The ECOWAS Trade Promotion Organisations (TPO) Network was established by Decision C/DEC.2/06/21 relating to the Establishment of the ECOWAS Trade Promotion Organizations Network by the 86th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers on 16 – 17 June 2021.

The Network, which draws from national Trade Promotion Agencies in the Ministries responsible for Trade, as well as the ECOWAS Commission and the International Trade Centre (ITC), seeks to contribute to strengthening the trade competitiveness of West Africa through the development of value chains and business linkages. With this network, ECOWAS joins Asia, Europe, Latin America and Arab States in applying a coordinated approach to trade development and promotion.

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