The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has organized a workshop to build the Capacity of Negotiators from the States Parties of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on Competition Policy.
The training on competition policy, organized by ECOWAS Regional Competition Authority (ERCA) and the ECOWAS Commission’s Directorate of Trade for stakeholders from Member States with the technical and financial support of Expertise France took place from 20th to 23rd September 2022 in Accra, Ghana.
The objective of the training session was to urgently provide ECOWAS Member States’ negotiators with basic knowledge of competition policy and law.
The meeting highlighted the implications of adopting a competition policy at the continental level in relation to national and regional competition rules. Finally, it outlined a common ECOWAS position within the framework of the AfCFTA negotiations on competition.
The opening ceremony of the training featured three speeches. In his speech, Dr Simeon Koffi, Executive Director of the ERCA, on behalf of the President of the ECOWAS Commission, acknowledged the presence of all the expected national stakeholders and their commitment to the ongoing negotiations at the continental level.
He further noted the positive dynamics of developing a competitive framework at national, regional and continental levels, with the harmonization and adoption of rules in line with the best international standards, a development that the capacity building of stakeholders would consolidate.
Healthy cooperation between ECOWAS Commission and Expertise France
Mr Augustine Owusu, the representative of Expertise France, expressed his satisfaction with the cooperation between the ECOWAS Commission and his organisation within the framework of the training session.
The representative of Expertise France also expressed optimism that this cooperation will be strengthened and expressed the availability of Expertise France to accompany ECOWAS in promoting a competitive environment and regional integration.
In his opening remarks, Mr Osvaldo Abibe, Chairman of the ECOWAS Trade Experts Meeting, recalled the issues discussed during the meeting and stated that the various stages of negotiations on competition reflect the need to equip the stakeholders concerned with useful knowledge to better understand the aspects and implications of competition laws at the continental level.
Mr Osvaldo Abibe encouraged the participants to leverage the knowledge acquired during the training session. The participants thanked the two facilitators of the training, Ms Lynn Robertson of the OECD Competition Division and Mr Sami Ouattara, Regional Competition Consultant.
The issues addressed during the training session included the benefits of competition policy for a national economy; the fight against cartels and all horizontal and vertical agreements harmful to competition; the concept of the market; merger control, especially mergers; procedural fairness and transparency; and competitive assessment of laws and regulations.
The training also covered concept of competitive neutrality; market power and abuse of dominant position and state aid as well as the AfCFTA protocol on competition and its implications for ECOWAS and its member states.
The capacity-building session was an opportunity to highlight ECOWAS’ position on competition. The States Parties, negotiators of the AfCFTA protocol, were called upon to take ownership of the regional consensus on the protocol and to make the voice of ECOWAS heard in continental negotiations.