The Director-Genera of World Trade Organization (WTO), Roberto Azevêdo advocates more regional and multilateral trade efforts to help drive Africa’s economic integration, growth, and development. This week he attended a meeting in Burkina Faso with ministers and senior officials from the member countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU).
“Multilateralism and regional initiatives are two complementary ways for WAEMU members to benefit from trade. This is key to support their strategies for growth, diversification, and development. Building appropriate capacity is essential here, and the WTO is working with WAEMU members to ensure that these needs are met”, said Roberto Azevêdo.
During the meeting, Roberto Azevêdo met Burkina Faso’s president, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, and also WAEMU Chairman Abdallah Boureima. He also spoke with representatives of the governments of Benin and Guinea-Bissau.
“At the WTO, WAEMU members play a constructive role on many fronts. It’s important to keep that momentum, especially as WTO members are starting to look for deliverables at our 12th Ministerial Conference in Kazakhstan next year”, he says.
At the meeting, Azevêdo summarized WTO’s ongoing initiatives to help increase trade capacity in the region and highlighted the discussions in Geneva aimed at making the organization more responsive and agile, including on issues where WAEMU members showed great interest, such as agriculture, cotton, fishing subsidies, and e-commerce.
“Progress to help strengthen the trading system at all levels would be a big step in helping to tackle the uncertainty caused by escalating trade tensions. This uncertainty is having a real economic impact, as it is leading businesses to defer investment, in turn weakening prospects for growth and job creation. Global cooperation is essential to help reverse this trend. We must all work together to that end”, concluded the WTO Director-General.
The West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) is a regional integration organization created by seven West African countries that share a single currency, the CFA Franc. UEMOA was created by a treaty signed in Dakar in 1994 by the heads of state and government of Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. In 1997, Guinea-Bissau became the eighth member state of the union.