RATIONALE FOR THE PROGRAMME:
Trade in agricultural products play a crucial role in stimulating economic growth, developing food markets, and reducing poverty and insecurity. Research results over several decades show that a one percent increase in the growth rate of agricultural exports increases the overall rate of economic growth by 0.04 to 1.83 percent. Furthermore, an incremental income increase of US$1 from tradable agriculture goods was shown to generate additional income of between US$1.50 and US$2.50 in rural areas of selected African countries.
African countries cannot meet the growth and poverty-reduction objectives set under the NEPAD Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) unless they improve their trade performance and reverse their decline in market shares in the agriculture sector. The loss of market share in regional and international agricultural export markets thus imposes substantial costs on African economies in terms of missed growth.
West African countries must therefore adopt effective agriculture strategies not only targeting international but also domestic and regional markets. They should be able to negotiate enhanced market access for their agriculture products not only to Europe but also within the ECOWAS sub-region. This calls for effective and robust trade negotiation capabilities amongst government officials, trade negotiators, private sector and non-state actors in the ECOWAS region to negotiate fair-terms of trade for enhanced access of the regions agriculture-exports whilst at the same time facilitating unhindered regional trade in agriculture products.
Capacity building of these stakeholders is therefore essential to enable them participate more effectively in trade negotiations and agreements which impacts significantly on the agriculture sector. Amongst others, these important negotiations and agreements include the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreements, ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS), EU – ECOWAS Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the AU Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) negotiations.
A critical dimension of the capacity-needs deficit in Africa relates to the lack of training and expertise on trade policy formulation, negotiation and implementation. This lack of capacity on trade policy formulation, development and implementation significantly affects the coordination and coherence of trade policies amongst and between these key stakeholders. Consequently, this also impacts on the ECOWAS regions’ negotiations and implementation of trade agreements, including the competitiveness of the agriculture sector.
The curriculum is therefore designed to provide trade policy training on agriculture and trade–related agriculture policy measures to enhance capacities of government officials, private sector and non-state actors in the agriculture sector. Training would enable key stakeholders to understand international and regional trade agreements, particularly how they impact the agriculture sector whilst at the same time preparing them to effectively participate in future bilateral, regional (ECOWAS) or multilateral trade negotiations.
The curriculum, which shall be incorporated in the curricula of the four partner universities is a short-term Certificate training programme. This Certificate training programme is expected to develop limited trade negotiations, policy formulation and negotiations capacities in ECOWAS member countries to address the lack of knowledge, expertise and effective engagement on agriculture trade policy issues in the region.