ECOWAS Private Sector Associations meet on Competition Policy Position Paper

22 March 2024
ITC News

The International Trade Centre (ITC) provided insights into the proposed policy options and reforms outlined in a position paper titled "Policy and Legal Options to Promote MSMEs under the ECOWAS and AfCFTA Competition Frameworks" to representatives from regional business associations in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

During a workshop organized in collaboration with key stakeholders and funded by the European Union (EU), the business associations explored the benefits of competition from the perspective of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), and how robust competition laws and policies can create a level playing field for businesses. The paper recommends promoting MSMEs through:

  1. legal provisions, by granting them blanket exemptions from competition rules to alleviate administrative burdens.
  2. bid-rigging provisions and joint-bidding facilitation, by explicitly prohibiting bid rigging within the ECOWAS competition framework, thereby distinguishing between serious and non-serious bid rigging, and providing exemptions for MSMEs involved in non-serious bid-rigging.
  3. AfCFTA Protocol on Competition and Procurement, by developing specific provisions on public procurement within the AfCFTA Protocol on Competition to support harmonization.

The workshop took place as part of ITC’s West Africa Competitiveness (WACOMP) programme, which supports selected value chains at national and regional levels and promotes structural transformation and better access to markets. Participants included the Federation of West African Employers Association (FWAEA), the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI), the Federation of West Africa Manufacturers Associations (FEWAMA), and the Federation of Business-Women and Entrepreneurs (FEBWE), among others.

The workshop also looked at the paper’s revised version, followed by its validation. Additionally, the roundtable will prepare for a policy dialogue session with the ECOWAS commission.

About the West Africa Competitiveness Programme (WACOMP)

WACOMP is financed by the European Union under the 11th European Development Fund. The programme aims to strengthen the competitiveness of West African countries and enhance their integration into the regional and international trading system. ITC works in cooperation with UNIDO and under the overall guidance of the ECOWAS Commission. The overall objective of the programme is 'to strengthen the competitiveness of West Africa through an enhanced level of production, transformation and export capacities of the private sector in line with regional and national industrial and MSME strategies'. The project is implemented by the International Trade Centre.