Competiveness and Trade in West Africa

Part of the Advances in African Economic, Social and Political Development book series (AAESPD)


The West African region similarly to the whole African continent is fragmented. It is made up of countries whose domestic markets are too small to achieve the economics of scale that could allow them to have the robust and equitable growth likely to create sustainable jobs. Under these conditions, regional economic integration, which could fosters free movement of goods, services, persons and capital between national markets, is essential for achieving the aforementioned growth and job-creation objectives.

In this regard, the 2020 Vision of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) aims to “create a borderless, peaceful, prosperous and cohesive region....” The pillars of the regional strategic plan derived from this vision include, (i) deepening economic and monetary integration; and (ii) strengthening mechanisms for integration into the global market.

Despite the wide range of opportunities offered by the ECOWAS single market and the institutional progress achieved in terms of regional integration within the zone (free trade area, adoption of a Common External Tariff in 2013 which enter into effect on January 2015, prospects of a single currency in 2020); there are persistent constraints that severely limit the benefits which the countries could derive from regional integration to boost their competitiveness.

The proposed paper analyses, over the period 1995–2011, among others, the impact of the ECOWAS FTA on trade structure, regional specialization and regional trade performance, on economic growth and income per capita. Finally, the paper concludes with some policy recommendations.


Competitiveness Trade Revealed comparative advantage Economic integration 

JEL Classification

F13 F14 F15 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.West Africa Regional DepartmentAfrican Development Bank, Regional Office for SenegalDakarSenegal

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