Regional Trade for Inclusive Development in West Africa
This study analyzed the potential of regional trade in facilitating the achievement of inclusive development in the West African region. Descriptive analysis is employed to examine the nature, composition and dimension of ECOWAS trade within the group and with the rest of the world, vis-à-vis three other Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). From the preliminary study, it can be observed that the growth rate of West African economies is increasing. However, the rising economic growth does not translate to improvement in inclusive development, as there was no significant reduction in poverty levels in the region. Further evidence reveals that extra-regional trade of the region is increasing at a very high rate, and also at a disproportionate rate with intra-regional trade, compared with SADC. This indicates the existence of opportunity to boost regional trade for inclusive development through conversion of part of the extra-regional trade into regional trade. The study further observes that the region’s exports is dominated by mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials, and imports dominated by machinery, transport equipment, manufactured goods and chemicals, which implies that skilled technical manpower in the manufacturing sector must be available to effectively exploit the opportunity of trade for inclusive development in the region.