“In effect, it should be recalled that, if growth is significant in some Member States such as the Ivory Coast (9.8%) and Senegal (6.6%), it has been very low or even negative in other countries of the Community,” he said.
He noted that Nigeria, the first economy of the region, has experienced negative growth rates under the combined effect of the decline in prices of raw materials, particularly oil, the fight against the terrorist attacks of Boko Haram, the fall of the Naira and the effects of climate change.
De Souza pointed out that Nigeria’s growth was 6.3 percent in 2014, then 2.7 percent in 2015 and the projections of the IMF to October 2016 indicate a growth rate of -1.7% in 2016.
“The recession of the Nigerian economy affects, no doubt, other economies of the region, including those of neighboring countries, and it has also had serious consequence in the increase in inflation, the fact of the deep depreciation of the naira.
In the light of all the challenges encountered by the Member States, the ECOWAS Commission President is calling for the adoption of strategic directions aimed at deepening reforms for the expansion and diversification of the base in order to strengthen the intra-Community trade.
“With regard to the implementation of the common external tariff (TEC) intended to build our customs union and to promote trade, only 10 of the15 Member States have applied to date,’ he disclosed.
The ECOWAS official indicated that the five remaining States have expressed their intention to apply on January 1, 2017.
“We invite them to accelerate this process which affects the implementation of the trade liberalization scheme of the ECOWAS,” he urged, adding, that the achievement of our common destiny in an objective of shared prosperity cannot be achieved without a genuine mobility of persons, goods, capital and services.
With regard to the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), he informed that Nigeria and the Gambia have still not signed but the Ivory Coast and Ghana have concluded Interim Agreements with the European Union, noting that these agreements will end with the implementation of the regional agreement.
Meanwhile, the session of the ECOWAS Commission provided an update on activities of the sub-regional organization in the area of peace and security, efforts and advances in the consolidation of peace, democracy, the rule of law and respect of human rights.
The Commission chair noted that in the field of democracy, it is clear from the balance sheet of this year that the five presidential elections scheduled were held in an atmosphere of peace and quiet.
“This favorable evolution for the consolidation of democracy has been noted as well in Benin, Niger, Cape Verde, Gambia and Ghana,” he indicated, but noted that with regard to the Gambia, there is uncertainty considering the statements made by the outgoing President
The ECOWAS Commission Chairman stressed the many security challenges that remain in the region especially the indiscriminate terrorist attacks that continue to plague the populations in particular in Mali, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Niger and Nigeria.