Consultant on ECOWAS Common Investment Market professor Jonathan Aremu has highlighted the use of multiple currencies across ECOWAS Member States as one of the constraints of actualizing economic integration in West Africa.
Aremu stated this on Tuesday while delivering a paper titled “Conceptual Issues in ECOWAS Integration” at the First 2023 Parliamentary Seminar of the ECOWAS Parliament in Bissau, Guinea Bissau,
The Seminar with the theme “ECOWAS Common Currency and the Interbank Payment System as Promoters of Regional Trade” ails at holding discussions that will cushion meeting the implementation of the region’s single currency “ECO”, one of the main visions of the ECOWAS integration agenda.
Aremu, who is a Professor of International Economic Relations, Covenant University, Nigeria said that the use of a common currency in among ECOWAS member states will help achieve the Economic/Monetary Union.
He said, “Economic/Monetary Union is the last step in an economic integration process; where in addition to a common market, it also requires integration of economic policies in both monetary and fiscal including common currency”.
Aremu said that harmonizing the monetary policies of each member state is also key to actualizing the ECOWAS economic integration to break trade barriers and the implementation of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS).
He explained that the ETLS when successfully implemented will make ECOWAS economically stronger and more attractive.
“As ETLS makes West Africa more integrated market, that is attractive to investors both within and outside the region, the initiative indirectly creates a platform that increases Micro, Small and Medium Enterprices (MSMEs) visibility.
“And bargaining power when negotiating further agreements like on trade and investment across the continent into the global trading arrangements under the World Trade Organization (WTO).
“Effective implementation of ETLS will not only enhance increasing trade between ECOWAS Member states but create a web of positive interactions and interdependency, that would build trust and reduce the risk of conflict between them,” He stated.
Aremu however urged the bloc to learn from the experience of other regions that have successfully integrated their regional economies.