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Banjul: Experts Discuss Harmonisation of Competition Policies in ECOWAS Region

Trade and competition experts from across West Africa are this week holding a technical meeting in The Gambia to discuss modalities to harmonise competition policies in member states of the sub-regional bloc ECOWAS.

 The event is aimed at promoting compliance with the ECOWAS Regional Competition Rules adopted in 2008.

 The ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement, Tei Konzi said compliance with the Regional Competition Rules would facilitate the efficient and effective operationalisation of the ECOWAS Regional Competition Authority (ERCA), the bloc’s newest agency.

 ERCA is established to implement the Regional Competition Rules adopted to promote, maintain and encourage competition and enhance economic efficiency in production, trade and commerce at the regional level. A specialised, autonomous body with adjudicatory and investigative powers, ERCA has a core mandate of keeping under review commercial activities in the ECOWAS market.

According to Konzi, ERCA are key components of the ECOWAS Regional Competition Policy Framework developed to improve competitiveness within the sub-region, but also to prohibit anti-competitive and monopolisation practices among companies.

 “ECOWAS thus views its competition policy as a necessary complement to its trade and investment policies and as such, an important component of its economic development efforts,” he said.

 The experts’ meeting would culminate in the official launch of the operations of the ERCA on Friday

 Ebrima Drammeh, the Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment, said the fact that ERCA is located in The Gambia is a manifestation of the importance the government attaches to regional integration and its commitment to the implementation of regional protocols and programmes.

 “This newest commission of the ECOWAS Commission will continue to receive support and guidance from the government of The Gambia for its effective operations,” he affirmed.

 According to Drammeh, the operations of ERCA and the enforcement of the Regional Competition Rules provide fair competitive level playing field and consumer protection conducive for businesses and prosperity and welfare of community citizens.

The technical meeting would consider the draft Strategic Action Plan for ERCA, update the status report on the application of Competition Policy and Rules in ECOWAS member states, and make recommendations for the setting up of the Consultative Competition Committee that would serve as a body to look into rules of harmonisation in the sub-region.

The opening of the meeting Monday coincided with the 44th anniversary of ECOWAS. In a statement to mark the anniversary, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou reaffirmed the regional leaders’ desire to jointly tackle the challenges facing the sub-region to ensure growth and raise the living standards of the people.

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