Impact of ‘New’ Global Trade Regimes on Regional Integration Processes in the South

The challenges of development as well as opportunities for the ECOWAS is critically discussed in this paper. It re-examines the philosophical and theoretical foundation of the ECOWAS, and also reviews some specific cooperative and integrative programmes of the ECOWAS within the last three decades. It also unveils both its unsung accomplishments and frustrations in the pursuit of development and collective self-reliance as goals of regional integration. Arguably, the experience of the ECOWAS is representative of other integrative and cooperative initiatives in Africa, not only in terms of its evolution and dynamics but also its challenges and opportunities as a modern integration scheme. Also, in this paper we point out that current African regional strategies are rather seeking accommodation within (also and closer cooperation with) the global trade system and its powerful international agencies. Recent developments in the cooperation between African regional blocs and the USA through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and the EU through the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) are cases in point. Also, the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) negotiated in the Post-Cotonou era is no less important in this regard.