Trade Facilitation, Transport and transit in West Africa

20 June 2016

In collaboration with the Academy of Global Governance, European University Institute (EUI) and with the participation of the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) Secretariat, UNCTAD organized a sub-regional workshop on 11-12 May 2016, in Florence, Italy, on how to build coordination in the implementation of the Diagnostic Trade Integration Studies' (DTIS) Action Matrices on trade facilitation, transport and transit for West African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger).

The timely event allowed participants to discuss and exchange experiences on how to use the new opportunities offered by the second phase of the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), which permits projects that have a regional dimension - i.e., involve implementation in more than one Least Developed Country (LDC).

The main output of the workshop was a roadmap on selected priority of work areas with related actions to be undertaken, for which the follow up will be ensured jointly by UNCTAD and H.E. Eloi Laourou, Ambassador of Benin, coordinator of the LDC group at WTO.

UNCTAD has recently completed the updating of EIF-funded Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS) of two transit countries in West Africa (the Gambia and Senegal) and of two landlocked countries (Mali and Niger). It is currently providing technical assistance to Benin in the elaboration of its National Trade Development Policy and supporting Burkina Faso in the drafting of its Medium Term Plan.

In the DTIS of these countries, the cross-border character of transit trade and trade facilitation are highlighted as major challenges to international trade, requiring cooperation in the implementation of the DTIS action matrices.

These issues were discussed in the sub-regional study that was conducted by UNCTAD and which served as a base for the discussion during the workshop.

The workshop was opened by Brigid Laffan, Director of the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies and Director of the Global Governance Programme of the EUI.

Welcome statements were also made by Hang Tran, representative of the EIF Executive Secretariat, Stefano Inama, Chief of the technical assistance and EIF section in the Division for Africa, Least Developed Countries and special programmes of UNCTAD and H.E. Eloi Laourou, Ambassador of Benin, coordinator of the LDC group at WTO.

In its new phase, the EIF has been adapted to the recent trends in international trade "such as the growing movement toward regional integration and trade, concern for services as well as goods trade, trade facilitation, value chain trade and the roles of private sector actors as the key players in trade itself" (EIF Programme Framework, May 2015). In this context, regional projects and activities are now eligible for potential funding.

Stefano Inama shared the experience of UNCTAD on how the EIF could be used to support the process of implementation of the trade facilitation agreements, following priorities identified in the DTIS action matrices of each respective country. Based on the EIF strategic framework, EIF could support feasibility studies for regional projects.

Frank Grozel from UNCTAD introduced to a new trade facilitation online tool "Trade Portal" ( at the workshop, which allows a country to display, at a glance, the rules and procedures required for exports, imports and transit of goods in accordance with article 1 of the WTO Bali Agreement on Trade Facilitation.

Presentations were made by EIF focal points in Niger and Burkina Faso, Hamadou Karidio, Nazaire Pare and Jesugnon Dossougbe, customs comptroller in Benin as well as Oumar Alassane Kouyate, technical advisor of the Ministry of commerce in Mali, and supported by the other delegates of the respective countries.

Inputs from countries and international experts were compiled and translated into a roadmap presented by Stefano Inama and Pramila Crivelli, focusing on three priority areas of work: Inter-State transit, transport and the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

Finally, Joakim Reiter, Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD welcomed the initiative and acknowledged the key role of coordination in the implementation of the WTO trade facilitation agreements in LDCs. He took this opportunity to reiterate the support of UNCTAD to the LDC group at WTO and to engage in further assistance.

Follow-up actions will be undertaken by the Permanent Mission of Benin, Coordinator of the LDC group at WTO, with the support of UNCTAD to formulate and present to the EIF secretariat a roadmap for the implementation of Phase 2 regional initiative on the following issues:


  1. Drafting a model of bilateral or sub-regional agreement to activate the Inter-State Road Transit Convention (ISRT).
    1. a. Setting up of a bilateral/sub-regional cooperation committee
    2. b. Definition of the committee's mandate, functioning, organization of work, composition and level of qualification of its members
  2. Training and advisory services


  1. Drafting and adoption of a legal and regulatory framework to organize the transport-related professions and logistics markets.
    1. Professionalization and training of stakeholders
    2. Enhancing the operational conditions and the quality of logistics services
    3. Inclusion strategy for the informal sector
    4. Empowerment of shippers (adoption of penal sanctions)
  2. Drafting and updating of bilateral agreements

Trade Facilitation Agreement

  1. Drafting of an implementation strategy of the TFA for LDCs
    1. Consolidated analysis of the AFE self-assessments carried out by LDCs
    2. Define a converging methodological approach on issues of common interest (ISRT, transit, single window…)
  2. Establishment of operational links between national trade facilitation committees.
    1. Definition of the terms of reference for the committee (mandate, functioning, composition, competencies, monitoring and evaluation)