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International Economic Cooperations
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is a regional group of fifteen West African countries, namely: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. It was founded on 28 May 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos, and has as its mission the promotion of economic integration across the region.
ECOWAS is considered as one of the pillars of the African Economic Community. The organization was founded in order to achieve "collective self-sufficiency" for its member states by creating a single large trading bloc through an economic and trading union. It also provides a peace keeping force in the region. The organization operates in three languages: English, French and Portuguese.
The ECOWAS consists of two institutions to implement policies, the ECOWAS Secretariat and the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development. Other monetary institutions with which the organization is readily associated include the West African Monetary Agency, West African Economic and Monetary Union, and West African Monetary Zone. Mr. James Victor Gbeho, the Advisor to the President of Ghana on Foreign Affairs, is the current President of the Commission. The current chairman is President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of Nigeria.
A few members of the organization have come and gone over the years. In 1976, Cape Verde joined ECOWAS, and in December 2000 Mauritania withdrew its membership of the organization.
Regional Security Cooperation
The ECOWAS nation assigned a non-aggression protocol in 1990 along with two earlier agreements in 1978 and 1981. They also signed a Protocol on Mutual Defence Assistance in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on 29 May 1981 that provided for the establishment of an Allied Armed Force of the Community.
The Community Court of Justice
The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice was created by a protocol signed in 1991 and was later included in Article 6 of the Revised Treaty of the Community in 1993. However, the Court didn't officially begin operations until the 1991 protocol came into effect on 5 November 1996. The jurisdiction of the court is outlined in Article 9 and Article 76 of the Revised Treaty and allows rulings on disputes between states over interpretations of the Revised Treaty. It also provides the ECOWAS Council with advisory opinions on legal issues (Article 10). Like its companion courts the European Court of Human Rights and the East African Court of Justice, it has authority over fundamental human rights breaches.
Sporting and Cultural Exchange
ECOWAS nations organize a broad array of cultural and sports event under the auspices of the body, ranging from the CEDEAO Cup in football, to the Miss CEDEAO Beauty pageant.
West African Monetary Agency
The West African Monetary Agency (WAMA) was created by ECOWAS in 1996 after its transformation from the West African Clearing House (WACH). As WACH, it promoted multilateral payment facility within West African sub-region. In addition to its functions of routing and clearing trade transactions and services, the Agency is charged with monitoring, coordinating and implementing the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Programme (EMCP) in order to hasten the creation of the ECOWAS single currency.
The agency is based in Freetown, Sierra Leone and has eight (8) Central Banks of ECOWAS member States as its members. These are: BCEAO (the common Central Bank of WAEMU countries), Bank of Cape Verde, Central Bank of The Gambia, Bank of Ghana, Central Bank of Guinea, Central Bank of Liberia, Central Bank of Nigeria and Bank of Sierra Leone.
The organs of the agency are: Committee of Governors, Economic & Monetary Affairs Committee, Operations and Administration Committee, and the Directorate of the Agency. The daily tasks of WAMA are managed by the Directorate under the supervision of the two Technical Committees and the Committee of Governors.
WAMA has facilitated the settlement of transactions within the sub-region, managed the Clearing and Payments System among member Central Banks in West Africa, strengthened monetary cooperation among ECOWAS member Central Banks, among others.
West African Economic and Monetary Union
The West African Economic and Monetary Union (also known as UEMOA from its name in French, union économique et monétaire ouest-africaine) is an organization of eight West African states. It was established to promote economic integration among countries that share the CFA franc as a common currency. UEMOA was created by a Treaty signed at Dakar, Senegal, on 10 January 1994, by the Heads of State and Governments of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. On 2 May 1997, Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony, became the organization's eighth (and only non-Francophone) member state.
UEMOA is a customs union and currency union between the members of ECOWAS. Its objectives include the promotion of greater economic competitiveness, through open markets, in addition to the rationalization and harmonization of the legal environment; convergence of macro-economic policies and indicators; creation of a common market; coordination of sectoral policies; and harmonization of fiscal policies.
Among its achievements, the UEMOA has successfully implemented macro-economic convergence criteria and an effective surveillance mechanism. It has adopted a customs union and common external tariff and has combined indirect taxation regulations, in addition to initiating regional structural and sectoral policies. A September 2002 IMF survey cited the UEMOA as "the furthest along the path toward integration" of all the regional groupings in Africa.
ECOWAS and UEMOA have developed a common plan of action on trade liberalization and macroeconomic policy convergence. The organizations have also agreed on common rules of origin to enhance trade, and ECOWAS has agreed to adopt UEMOA's customs declaration forms and compensation mechanisms.
West African Monetary Zone
The West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) is a group of six countries within ECOWAS formed in 2000. Member countries are: The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. The group has plan of introducing a common currency, the Eco, by the year 2015. The WAMZ is largely dominated by Nigeria, reflecting its status as Africa's largest oil producer and most populous country. All the members of group are English-speaking countries, except Guinea, which is Francophone. Along with Mauritania, Guinea opted out of the CFA franc currency shared by all other former French colonies in West and Central Africa.
The organs of WAMZ are: Technical Committee supported by cross-cutting expert committees, Committee of Governors, Convergence Council of Ministers and the Summit of Heads of State and Government. The work of the Zone is handled by the West African Monetary Institute from its office in Accra, Ghana.
The WAMZ is making effort to establish a strong stable currency on the side of the CFA franc, whose exchange rate is tied to the Euro and guaranteed by the French Treasury. The ultimate goal is for the CFA franc and Eco to merge, giving all of West Africa a single, stable currency. The launch of the new currency is being developed by the West African Monetary Institute based in Accra, Ghana. However, several of the WAMZ's countries are facing challenges of weak currencies and budget deficits, including inflation.
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