Nigeria will from 15th-17th May, 2018 host a Regional Cross-Border Trade Forum to discuss critical areas in food trade across the African continent as organised by Palladium Group, the implementer of the UKAid funded West Africa Food Market (WAFM) Programme.
The maiden edition with the theme “Deepening Food Trade Integration in West Africa” will discuss issues revolving around tariff and para-tariffs, experience sharing, regional trade protocols, business and networking opportunities, documentation delays and illicit payments and digital trade among others.
WAFM aims for growth in supply of staple foods, particularly cereals, and in the purchasing power of farmers in food-insecure Sahelian countries, strengthening resilience against periodic food-deficit shocks and contributing to prosperity, stability and security.
This is to be achieved via increased food production (yield increases and/or reduction in post-harvest losses) and cross-border trade along the Ghana-Burkina Faso and Niger-Nigeria trade corridors, thereby lowering seasonal price volatility in selected food markets.
The programme is made up of two components, a Policy Facility and a Challenge Fund.
According to Palldium Group, studies have shown that commodities exports are not diversified and characterized by heavy reliance on extractive products (petroleum, and natural gas) in Economic Community of West African Staes (ECOWAS). Agriculture exports constitute 10% of total exports with 60% out of this 10% representing cocoa production.
The organisers also emphasise that, imports are diversified with a high share of industrialized products (Vehicles, refined petroleum, ships, telecommunications technology, industrial equipment, medicines) and food products, hence, the ECOWAS state’s major trading partners are industrialized nations (China, India, USA, EU countries and Brazil).
Our correspondent was made to understand that, “these countries buy raw materials from and sell industrialized products to the sub-region. Based on trade figures, Nigeria accounts for 75% of ECOWAS region exports primarily because of petroleum and its large economy, the country also has the largest share of ECOWAS imports (52%) and food imports (51%). Ghana and Cote D Ivoire are the second and third largest economies in the region and constitute the main food exporters due to cocoa, followed by Nigeria.
According to the concept note exclusively obtained by News Headquarter, export earnings have given the region the resources to finance a growing share of food imports (according to official UNCTAD statistics; rice, wheat, processed food, fish, sugar, milk products, vegetable,) with a fast-growing population that needs to be fed and changing consumption patterns, following a strong urbanization and growing middle class without corresponding local food supply has left the region continuously import dependent. The trade integration remains the major key to transforming these current dynamics in the region.
“However, the notion of cross border trade among member states of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been hampered by; Export restrictions, check points, delays, illicit charges, poor transport networks, non-commitment to implementation and monitoring of regional protocols (ETLS and CET).
The expected outcome of the gathering is to identify key areas for current favorable trade-policies enforcement and reforms on regional policies that promote food trade and agricultural development.
It will also delve into the need to understand regional customs and trade provisions by officials and private sector operators and devise strategies to curb the prevalence of informal food trade.
The program will equally identify methods to simplify custom procedures to facilitate the flow of food trade in addition to charting a blueprint on quality trade data collection via trade-mapping.