“There is potential in EU-ECOWAS cooperation in the increasing exchange of trade. Not only trade of goods that are processed in West Africa but also trade of services” (ECOWAS, Trade Dept. staff, Abuja).
In light of these considerations, the potential of inter-regional cooperation has to be considered from a new angle. The qualitative data suggests that the underlying socio-economic challenges could potentially be addressed through cooperation in the economic domain. In this domain, the EU and the ECOWAS have been holding comprehensive mandates, which endow them with the right to negotiate trade agreements with each other, on behalf of their member states. With this, in their attempts to mitigate the prevailing challenges, the regional actors move from being a ‘supplementary’ instance for policy initiative, as in the case of the political migration domain, to the primary authority of policy initiative.
A tentative analysis of the ongoing trade negotiations between the EU and the ECOWAS (Economic Partnership Agreements –EPAs) reveals that trade tools have the potential to serve as a framework to facilitate the interests that were articulated by regional and national actors. The trade in service dimension has a framework at its disposal, which, despite the national sovereignties, could facilitate targeted, sector oriented labor migration in compliance with the needs of European and West African economies. Further, the dimension of trade in goods harbors the potential to set up a framework for trade and investment that fosters the socio-economic situation of the ECOWAS. It could potentially be used to stimulate the trade between the regions and especially investment into the West African region beyond the currently prevailing development dimension. >>> read Part VI. of I./II./III./IV./V./VI. <<<