ECOWAS Weighs Benefits of Morocco’s Membership

The West Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has underscored in a 66-page impact study that Morocco is welcome to the bloc provided that its membership proceeds gradually.

Jeune Afrique magazine, which gained access to the impact study that was submitted to the heads of state of the ECOWAS, said that the conclusions are overall in favor of Morocco’s membership, while noting the existence of some concerns regarding the economic disparities between the North African Kingdom and the rest of the West African grouping.

The magazine outlined the main conclusions of the study, which raises questions over the implementation of the freedom of movement between Morocco and the bloc as well as concerns regarding the protection of vulnerable sectors for ECOWAS countries in the event of Morocco’s accession to the group.

The single currency, the residency rights as well as other technical aspects were also raised in the study, which stresses that Morocco should take into account the concerns of the ECOWAS member states and hence proceed to a gradual integration process.

In this respect, a diplomatic source told Jeune Afrique that Morocco will enable ECOWAS member states to protect their vulnerable sectors by adopting an approach similar to the one applied between Morocco and the EU in the Association Agreement. This will give free access to ECOWAS member states to the Moroccan market without reciprocity as long as the ECOWAS wishes.

The study also highlights the economic benefits that the ECOWAS will gain from Morocco’s membership, citing agriculture and industry as sectors where Morocco made headway.

The 52nd summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), held over the past weekend, tasked a committee, made up of five heads of state, to further examine the impact study on the admission of the North African Kingdom in the economic bloc.

Morocco’s membership request was accepted “in principle” by ECOWAS heads of state at a June 4 summit in the Liberian capital, Monrovia.

The admission of Morocco to the ECOWAS sub-region will make it the second largest economy after Nigeria. Thanks to its geographic location and trade agreements with the EU, Turkey, the US and several Arab countries as well as its port and airport hubs, Morocco will offer West African countries a gateway to new markets.

With the inclusion of Morocco, the ECOWAS will bolster its aggregated GDP to the 16th rank globally ahead of Turkey and right after Indonesia.

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