The Regional Cooperation And Economic Development Of ECOWAS Member States

Project and Seminar Material Under International Law and Diplomacy

The Regional Cooperation And Economic Development Of ECOWAS Member States


Abstract


The regional cooperation and economic development of ECOWAS member states.

The research adopted qualitative method. It uses content/document analysis which are textbooks, print media, journals, articles, write-ups, internet based materials, authentic internet sources, class notes on Regional Integration, ECOWAS as well as Economic Development through the integration process.

The findings of the study reveals that: The functionality of ECOWAS as a regional organization in driving economic development of member states has brought about an increase in the level of awareness of integration in the region. ECOWAS has aided the regional approach to development through the acceptance of Member States in practice. ECOWAS in cooperation with the UN and other external actors has been able to enhance the economic relations existing amongst ECOWAS member states through its various strategies. ECOWAS has facilitated a free movement protocol among member states in terms of free movement of persons, goods and capital within the region. The implication of Nigeria/Benin Republic border closure has affected goods coming from other West African countries. The border closure is a plus to the local farmers in the country as the farmers now have the opportunity to sell their farm products to the local consumers on a high price. One of the ways to improve economic relations of ECOWAS member states is to involve strong private sector support.

The study concluded the functionality of ECOWAS as a regional organization in driving economic development of member states has brought about an increase in the level of awareness of integration in the region. The study further recommends that: ECOWAS should ensure that they increase the awareness of regional integration across all member states. The governments of West African countries need to rise above their rivalries and competition to ensure that ECOWAS works. ECOWAS countries need to formulate policies that will enhance fair trade among members with a more equitable economic order. ECOWAS need to create and put in place measures of preventing conflicts and promoting a culture of tolerance and compromise among member states. ECOWAS should try as much as possible to seek support from strong private sectors of member states.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study

Regionalism is in vogue and with an increasingly interdependent global economy, state boundaries have come under severe scrutiny with the future and purpose as validation for this scrutiny. Regionalism has gained global acknowledgement and has become a global agenda. Regionalism is the manifestation of accommodation of partnerships, primarily bound by location as a means of expanding frontiers of relations in a complex and interdependent world system.

As an instrument of regionalism, regional organizations are or have become globally spread. The reach of regional organizations is being witnessed on a global scale, regional organizations are the medium through which regionalism continues to reform through greater economic and technical openness. Regional organizations draw attention to problems faced by less developed or developing countries concerning their strata of economic and political activity. This is a vital reason for their existence and establishment as they, to a large extent give respect to individual countries, promote cooperation, enrich foreign relations to increase bilateral and multilateral trade.

Regional and sub-regional organizations are focused on human rights, economic and political development and play a marginal role in peacekeeping and conflict management. Regional and sub-regional organizations have continued to play pivotal roles in their respective regions in the areas of peace and security, human rights and development. They acknowledge the fact that in the discharge of their roles, economic development through socio political initiatives are a basic underlying structure for sustainable cooperation.

Regional organizations emerged in Africa to supplement and complement the efforts of the Organization of African Unity, now the African Union, acting under Chapter VIII of UN Charter.They act as the medium for the realization of development where the preoccupation has been focused on better economic welfare and integration.Six regional organizations have come into being between 1975 and 1999. One of these regional organizations which is a focus of this paper is Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and its impact on the economic development and bilateral or multilateral trade, drawing focus onits member states, The Republic of Benin and Nigeria.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was established for the blueprinting of economic growth and development of the region. Among others, the region contributes to the growth of the African economy as well as the global economy through her resources which are exported from the region to other parts of the world (Terwase, Asmat-Nizam & Knocks, 2015).

The Republic of Benin and Nigeria both became members of ECOWAS in May 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos and with its mission to promote economic integration and cooperation across the region. This study seeks to carefully appraise cause and effect in relations to the aims and objectives of ECOWAS, as a regional organization seeking economic development and integration and how these aims and objectives have influenced and impacted its member states, The Republic of Benin and Nigeria in view of the purpose of integration, their economic development and the integration process. This study will examine how being a member of ECOWAS has affected its member states, using The Republic of Benin and Nigeria as the case study, this study will further shed light on how the integration process which the ECOWAS is an instrument has brought about development in The Republic of Benin and Nigeria in recent years and the problems and shortcomings so far of regional integration directed by ECOWAS, using The Republic of Benin and Nigeria as a case study.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

In theory, the argument for regional integration for economic development is convincing. The hope was that through integration of several countries, their collective economic and political systems would in turn benefit from economies of scale. Countries, especially developing countries cannot introduce the level of development required for optimal economic growth but if the markets of several countries come together, there will be better chances of access into the enlarged market and there will be joint development economically and economic integration will place less developed countries on a platform to deal with unfair competition from industrialized countries. Integration is a medium for the eradication of usually economic barriers and political unity of the component states.

A motive for integration was the hope that free trade areas will give industries in less developed countries a fighting chance in competition with developed countries but when developing countries combine in integrating organizations, the pressures of the market and advantages for better developed states inside those organizations are similar to those that exist in the outside world. The better developed countries will experience a quite disproportionate dividend of the benefits that come from the integration process even though all members are better off than it was before the integration process.

The main problem which the study seeks to focus on is, if relatively developed countries come off better from the integration process, then what happens to the less developed countries in ECOWAS? Is there any benefit? Or are they simply helping relatively developed countries with minimal benefits to them on an economic and political scale? This study aims to delve into the reality of the situation of ECOWAS and discover if it is a system where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer using the economic relations between Nigeria and The Republic of Benin to get a closer insight as to how they affect each other and in turn the West African sub region.


1.3 Objective of the Study

The main objective of this study is to appraise regional cooperation and economic development of ECOWAS member states.

The specific objectives of this study will be to;

  1. Evaluate the functionality of ECOWAS as a regional organization in driving economic development of member states.
  2. Examine the economic relations existing amongst ECOWAS member states.
  3. Analyze the implication of Nigeria/The Republic of Benin border closure on the economic development of the West African sub region.
  4. Determine ways to improve economic relations of ECOWAS member states.
  5. Recommend strategies to improve Nigeria and The Republic of Benin economic relations.

1.4 Research Questions

This study seeks the answer the following questions;

  1. To what degree has the ECOWAS been functional as a regional organization for the driving of economic development in its member states?
  2. How are the relations existing between ECOWAS member states?
  3. To what extent has the Nigeria/The Republic of Benin border closure affected economic development of the West African sub region?
  4. How to improve economic relations of ECOWAS member states?
  5. Strategies focused on the improvement on Nigeria and The Republic of Benin economic relations?

1.5 Significance of the Study

This study aims to shed light on the benefits and limitations of regional integration on less developed countries and seeks to expose a way to ensure that less developed countries and member states experience maximal benefits of the integration and impact the development process and growth of the member state as a political and economic entity. So as to provide suitable solutions to such issues of economic integration the study will look at the bases of setting up the sub-regional organization known as ECOWAS. This will take us to understanding the role of ECOWAS in ensuring and enhancing good economic governance, and the role of sustaining peace and security in the region so that the main purpose of its establishment would be achieved.

This study will help in providing direction for regional organizations such as ECOWAS in providing and managing the integration and cooperation process in order for them to provide situations in which the pressures of the market are miniscule in order to give less developed countries a platform on which they can comfortably compete on the global scale with developed countries.

The study will serve as an eye opener in order increase the effectivity of regional organizations and in turn provide a better breeding ground for their member states for development and serve as an example to other regional and sub regional organizations in order for the general development of countries and hopefully set a new precedent for them to carry out their roles and duties of stimulating development through the integration process. Also, the findings can then be utilized by future researchers and academicians as they carry out their own literary works.


1.6 Scope of the Study

This study will expatiate on the concept of regional integration for economic and political development through the ECOWAS and how the ECOWAS has been instrumental in the economic development of its member states, in this case The Republic of Benin and Nigeria. It focuses on providing viable solutions in tackling this issue. The geographical location for this study is The Republic of Benin and Nigeria. The time frame of this study will be between 2015 to 2019.


1.7 Research Methodology

This study is qualitative in nature and will employ secondary sources of data which will be resulting from first-hand information written by other field researchers.This study will be completed through the use of Desk Research making using of secondary data. This secondary data will be found in textbooks, print media such as magazines, journals, articles, write ups, and internet-based materials on Regional Integration, ECOWAS as well as Economic Development through the integration process.

The research will also use authentic internet sources and journals from previous scholars and authors. The study will use all relevant documents available from classmates, lecturers, and the supervisor and also from previously covered course content. The data collected will be analyzed for the final product of this research project.


1.8 Operational Definition of Terms

Regional Integration:

This is a process by which neighboring states enter into an agreement in order to upgrade cooperation through common institutions and rules for economic development in order to reduce or eliminate trade barriers and coordinate monetary and fiscal policies.

Regional Organization:

They are international organizations as they incorporate membership and encompass geopolitical entities that transcend a single nation state. They consist of those supranational institutions whose members are governments or monetary authorities that are located in a specific region of the world.

ECOWAS:

The Economic Community of West African States is a regional organization consisting of fifteen countries located in West Africa. It was established on May 28th 1975 via the treaty of Lagos. These countries comprise an area of 5,114,162 km2 (1,974,589 sq mi), and in 2015 had an estimated population of over 349 million.

Economic Development:

This is the process by which economic wellbeing and standard of living of a particular nation, region or economic entity is improved. It reflects social, political and economic progress and requires economic growth.

Trade:

Trade is a basic economic concept involving the buying and selling of goods and services, with compensation paid by a buyer to a seller, or the exchange of goods and services between parties.


1.9 Chapter Outlay

This research is structured into five chapters.

  1. Chapter one lays down the foundation for the research through the background to the study, statement of the research problem, research objectives, and research questions, significance of the study, scope of the study, research methodology and operational definition of key terms.
  2. Chapter two examines views on important conceptual and theoretical frameworks.
  3. Chapter three of this study will show a critical analysis of The Economic Community of West African states (ECOWAS) and its roles and purpose as an instrument of the regional integration process.
  4. Chapter four will contain an analysis of the relationship between Nigeria and The Republic of Benin as member states of the ECOWAS, the effect of integration on the country’s economic development and the solutions to improve economic development and maximize the benefits of the integration process.
  5. Chapter five will present the conclusion and summary on the subject matter, as well as the recommendations, thoughts and views of the researcher on how future regional organizations should develop administrative and trade policies in order to maximize benefits of the integration process.

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