Small-scale cross-border traders (SSCBTs) are key economic actors in West Africa. Learn more about our work to understand existing constraints affecting SSCBTs especially women and design interventions to respond to identified constraints and ultimately make trade easier, cheaper, and safer.
NEWS & EVENTS
TFWA Program Holds Inclusive Project Management Workshop
From November 21 to 22, the TFWA Program piloted its Inclusive Project Management workshop for NTFCs in Benin. The two-day session gathered 41 participants (from civil society and the private and public sectors) who learned key principles of project management and gender aspects of trade—both essential tools for NTFCs to conduct a robust and inclusive stakeholder mapping.
Workshop participants greatly appreciated the information and insights received from the facilitators and from one another. At the end of the workshop, Mr. Pognon (Director of External Trade at the Ministry of Trade and Industry) and Mrs. Karuretwa (Principal Private Sector Specialist at the World Bank, Benin) awarded certificates to the participants and encouraged them to apply lessons learned while coordinating trade facilitation reforms for the benefit of the business community and civil society.
This activity forms part of the TFWA Program Capacity Building Framework for NTFCs. The Benin NTFC identified it as a priority task through a Maturity Self-Assessment (completed in September 2022) and through its NTFC Action Plan.
Benin Establishes National Trade Facilitation Committee
The government of Benin, with support from the Trade Facilitation in West Africa (TFWA) Program, signed an inter-ministerial decree formalizing the National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) as part of their obligations to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). The NTFC will play a central role in coordinating implementation of trade facilitation measures and other related initiatives, including strengthening public-private sector partnership and assisting the government to modernize and simplify trade procedures in the country.
The newly established committee is made up of the following bodies:
- Strategic Orientation Committee
- Technical Committee
- Technical Working Groups, which take into account gender, trade facilitation, and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)
The signing was preceded by a series of meetings and consultation sessions with key stakeholders, including the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Trade Facilitation Committee of the General Directorate of Customs, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Microfinance (in charge of gender), and the private sector.
Following these consultations, the TFWA Program team organized an in-country workshop, among other things, to strengthen the NTFC’s institutional capacities (based on the TFWA Program Maturity Model). The session helped the government define its priorities and actions, improve awareness of international best practices, and renew commitments to integrate a gender perspective into trade facilitation reforms.
The structure of the new institutional framework guarantees institutional coherence in terms of trade facilitation, and takes into account the aspects of the TFA, the Trade in Goods Protocol of the AfCFTA, as well as the gender dimension related to cross-border trade.
With the continued support of the TFWA Program, Benin now joins the list of West African countries that operate on principles of global best practices. Through its newly established NTFC, Benin will make progress in facilitating greater inclusiveness, simplification, and harmonization of international trade procedures.
National Approval Committee members in Cabo Verde, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Benin, Niger, and Togo strengthen their skills on ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme approval procedures
The TFWA Program supported the ECOWAS Commission Directorate of Customs Union and Taxation (DCUT) to organize a virtual training on ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) approval procedures. The workshops targeted National Approval Committee (NAC) members in in Cabo Verde (5th to 9th October) Guinea (12th to 14th October), Burkina Faso (15th, 16th and 19th October), Benin, Niger, and Togo (9th to 13th November). In total, 102 people completed the workshops, including participants from the Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Regional Integration, Ministry of Finance, Customs Directorate, the Chamber of Commerce and National Export Promotion Body.
One objective of these nine workshops was to strengthen the functioning of the NACs by training their members on the ETLS mechanism. At the same time, the workshops aimed to provide ECOWAS Member States with a good number of trained ETLS resource people to facilitate activities, raise awareness, and train the national business community on ETLS, with a particular emphasis on highlighting the advantages of the scheme and the criteria for approval of companies and products.
The workshops allowed NAC members to master the ETLS mechanism, ensuring that a good number of ETLS resource persons are available in each trained ECOWAS Member State. Through these workshops, the approval process will be facilitated at the national level and the timeline for approval will be drastically reduced. Trainees will lead national awareness, information, and capacity building activities on the ETLS mechanism in order to strengthen regional integration in the ECOWAS region. As a result, the TFWA Program hopes to see a significant increase in the number of submissions of applications for approval to the scheme from these countries. Following the workshops, trainee-led national activities will also strengthen regional ETLS integration in the ECOWAS region.
TFWA Program Advance Trade and Gender Dialogue in Benin
On March 6, the TFWA Program facilitated the first bilateral meeting between the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Microfinance in Benin. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Microfinance is in charge of gender promotion and integration, and by bringing these ministries together and creating a platform for dialogue, the TFWA Program helped advance its goals around trade and gender in Benin.
As a result of the meeting, which was attended by more than 15 key officials, the ministries decided to form a trade and gender working group—agreeing to come together to outline terms and a work plan for the group. Participants also agreed to integrate gender into the workings of national trade facilitation, and look into how the decree under review may make the Ministry of Social Affairs and Microfinance a permanent member of the National Trade Facilitation Committee in Benin.
The bilateral meeting was preceded by two separate individual meetings with the Minister of Industry and Trade and the Minister of Social Affairs and Microfinance, respectively. The two ministers agreed to jointly champion the launch of two reports: a regional gender assessment and a survey on small-scale cross-border trade and gender. These reports highlight the need for gender to be mainstreamed in trade-related activities, encouraging both ministries to make it a priority moving forward.