ECOWAS Sets Committee at Heads of State Level to Study Impact of Morocco’s Membership
The 52nd summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) wrapped up with a political decision regarding Morocco’s membership providing for the setting up of a committee to further study the impact of the admission of the North African Kingdom in the economic bloc.
The committee will be presided by the heads of state of Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea and Nigeria who will determine the terms of reference for the impact study on Morocco’s membership request as well as granting Tunisia an observer status and admitting Mauritania as an associated member.
Although it was depicted as a technical study, the fact that the heads of state themselves are in control reflects the salient political dimensions presiding Morocco’s membership in the ECOWAS.
In a comment on the setting up of such a committee at the heads of state level, a diplomat told Morocco’s le360 news website, that “this decision reinforces Morocco’s position as a country that champions south-south cooperation as a strategic lever for developing West African countries”. “The composition of the committee is balanced as Morocco maintains close ties with the heads of state who will decide on Morocco’s ECOWAS membership,” the diplomat said.
Prior to joining the African Union by the end of 2016, the Moroccan monarch visited all ECOWAS countries to the exception of Togo. The visits featured the launch of several development projects, including the largescale fertilizers factory in Nigeria as well as the gas pipeline that will channel Nigerian gas to Morocco, benefiting Atlantic ECOWAS countries.
Morocco’s economic ties with Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Senegal and Mali are often described as “excellent”, bolstered by centuries-old ties and increasing investments by Moroccan companies operating in the sectors of banking, finance, telecommunications, tourism, education and agriculture.
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.