E. Uwak Uko, V. Edem Ebong


The ECOWAS Trade Liberation Scheme (ETLS) is the main ECOWAS Operational tool in bringing a free trade area and economic interaction for the West African Sub-region. Although there are few minimal achievements of the scheme, there are a lot more obstacles bedevilled the full implementation of the scheme after 44 years it had been drawn up, and 33 years after it became fully operational. Therefore, the crux of this study was an assessment of whether the scheme has succeeded in the creation of a free trade area, customs union and economic integration in the West African sub-region. The study adopted the custom Union theory as the theoretical framework of analysis. The major finding of the work was that there cannot be a free trade area without any products to trade as the lack of export diversification has been one of the major obstacles to attaining a free trade area and economic integration in West Africa. Other findings included but were not limited to, the inadequacies of laid-down policies coupled with the constant circumvention of such policies, the absence of harmonization of policies and standards and much more. In the final analysis, the study recommended among others, the improvement in levels of production in individual member states through policies and programmes, eliminating of all forms of trade barriers as well as the private sector involvement in the decision-making and the implementation process of ECOWAS protocols and schemes for a fair representation of their interest.


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ECOWAS, trade liberalization, economic integration, custom union, free trade, private sector

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