West African leaders on Friday reiterated their commitment to the conclusion of an equitable and development-oriented Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union and urged the two sides to the negotiations to identify areas of consensus and work towards compromise on persisting divergences.
In a communique released at the end of their extraordinary summit in Dakar, the leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said they had taken note of the new market access scenario attained by the Region and which took into account the required coherence with the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) and development objectives envisaged in the EPA.
It said on the basis of the new proposals, the leaders had directed the chief negotiators for West Africa “to expeditiously resume discussions with their European partners with a view to concluding the regional agreement as soon as possible”.
It also directed them to put services and free movement of persons on top of the priorities during the negotiations and appealed for “flexibility” by the two parties in the search for compromise on all issues in the interest of the two Regions.
The Senegalese president Macky Sall was tasked to oversee the negotiations in the search for comprises that are mutually beneficial to the parties.
On monetary integration, the heads of State and Government reaffirmed their political will to establish a common currency for West Africa, as well as their commitment to the Monetary Cooperation Programme and the roadmap adopted to that effect.
“While commending the efforts made in the implementation of the roadmap, Authority expresses its determination to the emergence of the single currency,” the communique said.
The leaders urged all the member states, in particular those in the Second West African Monetary Zone, including Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, to take all the necessary measures to ensure the required convergence of their macro-economic policies for the establishment of a second monetary zone.
They entrusted the role of facilitation and monitoring of the monetary convergence process to President Mahamadou Issoufou Niger and President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana.
“Authority directs the President of the ECOWAS Commission to take all the necessary steps in collaboration with the West African Monetary Agency (WAMA), and the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI) to support efforts of Member States
in ensuring a smooth implementation of the activities on the roadmap of the ECOWAS single currency programme,” the communique said.