Chapter

Appendix Exchange and Trade Arrangements in the Community

Author(s):
Saleh Nsouli, John McLenaghan, and Klaus-Walter Riechel
Published Date:
August 1982
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Exchange Rate Arrangements

The exchange arrangements maintained by member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as of December 31, 1980 are shown in Table 11. Of the 16 member countries, all except Ghana and Nigeria have opted to peg their currencies within relatively narrow margins to a single currency or to a basket of currencies. Ghana and Nigeria have informed the Fund that they are maintaining flexible exchange arrangements. Of the 14 countries with a currency peg, 9 exchange arrangements involve a peg to a single currency and 5 to a composite of currencies, of which 3 are pegged to the SDR.

Table 11.ECOWAS: Exchange Rate Arrangements(As of December 31, 1980)
Exchange Rate Pegged to
Single currencyComposite of currenciesFlexible

Exchange

Rate
CountryU.S.

dollar
SterlingFrench

franc
SDROther

composite
BeninCFAF 50
Cape VerdeX1
Gambia, TheD4
GhanaX2
GuineaGS 24.69
Guinea-BissauPG 44
Ivory CoastCFAF 50
LiberiaL$1
MaliMF 100
MauritaniaX1
NigerCFAF 50
NigeriaX3
SenegalCFAF 50
Sierra LeoneLe 1.367
TogoCFAF 50
Upper VoltaCFAF 50
Sources: IMF, Annual Report on Exchange Arrangements and Exchange Restrictions, 1981 and International Financial Statistics.

Trade-weighted basket of currencies.

The exchange rate of the cedi is expressed in U.S. dollars but is periodically adjusted.

The official middle rate for the U.S. dollar (the intervention currency) is determined on the basis of a basket of currencies.

Sources: IMF, Annual Report on Exchange Arrangements and Exchange Restrictions, 1981 and International Financial Statistics.

Trade-weighted basket of currencies.

The exchange rate of the cedi is expressed in U.S. dollars but is periodically adjusted.

The official middle rate for the U.S. dollar (the intervention currency) is determined on the basis of a basket of currencies.

Only one member country of the Community maintains multiple currency practices. Ghana’s exchange rates differ from the official rate because of the imposition of cash margin deposits against import letters of credit, a 75 per cent surcharge on exchange allocations for foreign travel, and a 10 per cent bonus on all exports except cocoa. These exchange practices are applied for balance of payments reasons, and they are intended to discourage imports and foreign travel and to encourage exports.

The French franc and the U.S. dollar are the most frequently used intervention currencies. The French franc serves as the intervention currency in all seven countries that peg their currencies to the French franc, while the U.S. dollar is used as the intervention currency in Cape Verde, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, and Nigeria. The U.S. dollar is legal tender in Liberia. The Gambia and Sierra Leone use the pound sterling as their intervention currency.

Exchange Systems

To date, none of the member countries of the Community has accepted the obligations of Article VIII, Sections 2, 3, and 4 of the Fund’s Articles of Agreement. Thus, they all continue to avail themselves of the transitional arrangements under Article XIV.

Prescription of Currency

As indicated in Table 12, all member countries of the Community, with the exception of Liberia, have prescription of currency requirements. Currencies authorized for use in international settlements are generally convertible currencies or other selected currencies quoted by the central bank of the respective country. For the Operations Account countries20 within the Community (i.e., the member countries of the West African Monetary Union plus Mali), settlements with France (and its Overseas Departments and Territories), Monaco, and other Operations Account countries are made in CFA francs, French francs, or the currency of any other Operations Account country. Among the member countries of the Community that have prescription of currency requirements, The Gambia has the least restrictions on settlements, which may be made in any foreign currency. By contrast, settlements in Guinea may be made only in specifically designated convertible currencies.

Table 12.ECOWAS: Prescription of Currency(As of December 31, 1980)
Bilateral Payments

Arrangements with
Settlement of

Intra-Community

Payments Through

the WACH1
Non-ECOWAS

member
CountryECOWAS

member
Fund

member
Other
BeninXRarely
Cape VerdeGuinea-BissauX2
Gambia, TheFrequently
GhanaXXGenerally
GuineaXGenerally
Guinea-BissauCape VerdeXSometimes
Ivory CoastRarely
Liberia3Rarely
MaliXXRarely
MauritaniaNo operations
NigerNigeria4Rarely
NigeriaNiger4Sometimes
SenegalRarely
Sierra LeoneXGenerally
TogoRarely
Upper VoltaRarely
Sources: IMF, Annual Report on Exchange Arrangements and Exchange Restrictions, 1981; and data provided by the national authorities.

West African Clearing House.

Cape Verde is not a member of the West African Clearing House.

Practice does not exist in Liberia.

The bilateral payments agreement between Niger and Nigeria lapsed at the end of 1977. Certain settlements, however, are still effected through special accounts.

Sources: IMF, Annual Report on Exchange Arrangements and Exchange Restrictions, 1981; and data provided by the national authorities.

West African Clearing House.

Cape Verde is not a member of the West African Clearing House.

Practice does not exist in Liberia.

The bilateral payments agreement between Niger and Nigeria lapsed at the end of 1977. Certain settlements, however, are still effected through special accounts.

The only operative bilateral payments agreement in the Community is the one maintained between Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau. Payments between these two countries are settled through clearing accounts in their respective central banks. A bilateral payments agreement between Niger and Nigeria lapsed at the end of 1977, but certain settlements between these two countries are still effected through special accounts of the Banque Internationale pour l’Afrique de l’Ouest (BIAO). Settlements under bilateral arrangements between a Community member and a nonmember are generally made in the currency or currencies agreed between the two countries.

Payments for intra-Community current account transactions are channeled by some member countries through the West African Clearing House. Settlements are commonly effected in selected convertible currencies.21 Column 4 of Table 12 indicates the use of the Clearing House by banks in member countries of the Community for clearing of regional trade.

Imports and Import Payments

Table 13 presents an overview of the regime of imports and import payments as of the end of December 1980. With the exception of Liberia, all member countries of the Community impose quantitative and/or cost restrictions on imports. In a number of cases, these restrictions reflect priorities contained in formal foreign exchange and/or import plans. Only Cape Verde, The Gambia, and Liberia do not formulate such plans. In the member countries of the West African Monetary Union, some broad foreign exchange forecasting and planning takes place in the context of overall monetary planning by the Council of Ministers and the Executive Board of the Banque Centrale des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (BCEAO). More explicit import programs are found in Benin and Upper Volta. Mali’s annual import program distinguishes between clearing countries (countries with which Mali maintains bilateral payments arrangements) and convertible area countries (all other countries). An allocation commission establishes import quotas for each private importer on the basis of his turnover. The most stringent import programs are those in Ghana, Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau, where a rigid system of exchange allocation is linked to an import licensing system based on the import program. A detailed annual foreign exchange budget is the basis for the import programs in Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Table 13.ECOWAS: Regime of Imports and Import Payments(As of December 31, 1980)
Foreign Exchange for Imports
Import Control MechanismImport Surcharge or Advance Import DepositsFreely available for authorized importsPayments arrearsPreferential Treatment of Imports by Origin
CountryImport plan or programLicensing systemCommunityNon-Community
BeninAnnual program1 WAMU program2OpenXFrench franc area
Cape VerdeNoneOpen and specificX
Gambia, TheNoneOpen and specificImport taxX
GhanaRecurrently revised annual foreign exchange programSpecificCash margin depositX
GuineaFive-year plan, annual foreign exchange programSpecificSurchargeX
Guinea-BissauMonthly exchange programSpecificX
Ivory CoastWAMU program2OpenX
LiberiaNoneSpecificSurchargesX
MaliAnnual programSpecificXNo license requiredEuropean Community
MauritaniaInformal programmingOpenX
NigerWAMU program2OpenXFrance and Operations Account Countries
NigeriaAnnual foreign exchange budgetOpen and specificX
SenegalGeneral2 and special3OpenXFrench franc area
Sierra LeoneAnnual foreign exchange programOpen and specificInvoice entry tax and special licensingXLower license fee
TogoWAMU program2Open and specificXFrench franc area
Upper VoltaAnnual program1 WAMU program2Open and specificCustoms stamp tax plus surchargeXFrench franc area
Sources: IMF, Annual Report on Exchange Arrangements and Exchange Restrictions, 1981; and data provided by the national authorities.

Applies to specific commodities only.

Overall planning of foreign exchange needs within the framework of monetary planning of the West African Monetary Union (WAMU).

Special annual program with global quotas for imports from all nonmember countries of the European Community outside the former French franc area.

Sources: IMF, Annual Report on Exchange Arrangements and Exchange Restrictions, 1981; and data provided by the national authorities.

Applies to specific commodities only.

Overall planning of foreign exchange needs within the framework of monetary planning of the West African Monetary Union (WAMU).

Special annual program with global quotas for imports from all nonmember countries of the European Community outside the former French franc area.

The comprehensive coverage of the import licensing systems in Ghana, Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau is underscored by the fact that all imports require a specific license, while in Mali all imports except those originating in member countries of the Community require an individual license. By contrast, in Cape Verde, The Gambia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Upper Volta the majority of imports are permitted under an open general license and only selected imports require a specific license. All imports are permitted under an open general license in Benin, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal, while no import license is required in Liberia.

Import surcharges and/or advance import deposits are in force in 6 of the 16 member countries of the Community. The Gambia levies a tax of 1 per cent of the c.i.f. value of imports, unless otherwise specified. In Ghana, cash margin deposits are prescribed on the opening of letters of credit for most imports, with different rates by commodity. Rates are zero for crude oil and fertilizers and reach a maximum of 65 per cent for most commodities for private consumption, including passenger cars. In Guinea, all imports are subject to a surcharge except when imported by the “mixed economy companies” (private export-import firms that commonly pay for their imports with foreign exchange earned from their own exports or other sources rather than with foreign exchange officially allocated to them). In Liberia, surcharges are applied to imports of luxury goods at the rate of 25 per cent of the c.i.f. value, and to “normal” items at the rate of 15 per cent of the c.i.f. value. Sierra Leone applies an invoice entry tax and a special licensing fee of 9 per cent each on the c.i.f. value of all imports not specifically exempted by the Ministry of Finance. Finally, in Upper Volta most imports are subject to a 6 per cent customs stamp tax and an equal import surcharge.

Foreign exchange is made freely available for authorized imports in Benin, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo, and Upper Volta. However, at the end of 1980 The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, and Sierra Leone had arrears in import payments. In Nigeria import payments exceeding

100.000, or import contracts exceeding
100.000 and not covered by a letter of credit, must be registered with the Central Bank and the Ministry of Trade.

Only two member countries of the Community grant preferential treatment to imports from all other member countries. Mali exempts imports originating in a member country of the Community from individual licensing and requires only an import certificate. Sierra Leone reduces to 5 per cent the invoice entry tax and the special licensing fee for all imports from countries belonging to the Community, compared with 9 per cent for all other imports. Preferential treatment of imports originating outside the Community is granted by Benin, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo, and Upper Volta, in most cases to the benefit of countries belonging to the former French franc area. It should also be noted that all member countries of the Community are signatories to the Lome Convention and thereby grant preferential treatment to imports from all member countries of the European Community.

Exports and Export Proceeds

Table 14 summarizes the main features of the regulation applying to exports for each member country of the Community. Export licensing is generally designed to ensure sufficiency of domestic supplies. Most member countries do not apply explicit quantitative restrictions on exports. Only Ghana, Guinea, and Nigeria make all exports subject to an export license. Certain member countries maintain export prohibitions for selected countries in accordance with United Nations resolutions but have no other general restrictions.

Table 14.ECOWAS: Regime of Exports and Export Proceeds(As of December 31, 1980)
CountryQuantitative

Restrictions

on Exports
Type of

Export

Licenses
Repatriation

or Surrender

Requirement
Export

Promotion

Schemes
Preferential

Treatment of

Exports to

Community

Members
BeninNo1NoneSurrender
Cape VerdeNoIndividualSurrender
Gambia, TheNoIndividual/open.Surrender
GhanaYesIndividualSurrenderExport bonus
GuineaYesIndividualSurrender2
Guinea-BissauNoIndividualSurrender
Ivory CoastNo3IndividualSurrender
LiberiaNo3Selected productsNone
MaliNoIndividualSurrenderNo export

license

required
MauritaniaNo4NoneSurrender
NigerNo3IndividualSurrender
NigeriaYes5IndividualSurrender
SenegalNo3Individual (other than French franc area)Surrender
Sierra LeoneNo5, 6GeneralSurrender
TogoNo3GeneralSurrender
Upper VoltaNo3GeneralSurrender
Sources: IMF, Annual Report on Exchange Arrangements and Exchange Restrictions, 1981; and data provided by the national authorities.

Exports to South Africa and Zimbabwe are prohibited.

Except “mixed economy companies,” which are allowed to keep their export proceeds abroad to pay for their imports and operating requirements.

Exports to South Africa are prohibited.

Exports to Israel and South Africa are prohibited.

Exports to Namibia and South Africa are prohibited.

Restrictions on selected goods.

Sources: IMF, Annual Report on Exchange Arrangements and Exchange Restrictions, 1981; and data provided by the national authorities.

Exports to South Africa and Zimbabwe are prohibited.

Except “mixed economy companies,” which are allowed to keep their export proceeds abroad to pay for their imports and operating requirements.

Exports to South Africa are prohibited.

Exports to Israel and South Africa are prohibited.

Exports to Namibia and South Africa are prohibited.

Restrictions on selected goods.

Though only a minority of member countries of the Community have explicit quantitative restrictions on exports, the majority have some export licensing. Only Benin, Ivory Coast, and Mauritania make all exports free of a licensing requirement, while in Liberia licensing applies only to a few selected products. Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Upper Volta have licensing of a general nature rather than by individual export contract, while The Gambia subjects some commodities to an individual license and others to an open general license. In all other countries, individual export licenses must be obtained by exporters.

In most member countries of the Community exporters must not only repatriate export earnings but are also subject to a surrender requirement. Liberia, however, permits exporters to dispose of their export earnings freely. Guinea allows “mixed economy companies” to keep their export proceeds abroad to pay for their imports and operating requirements.

Ghana is the only country that has an export promotion scheme, which takes the form of an export bonus applied to export proceeds in external African currencies or convertible currencies for all exports except cocoa. The bonus amounts to 10 per cent of the export value.

Except for Mali, which exempts exports to member countries from the usual licensing requirement, no other member country of the Community grants preferential treatment for exports to other member countries.

Payments for and Proceeds from Invisibles

Table 15 summarizes broadly for the member countries of the Community the principal regulations pertaining to invisibles, covering primarily private and official travel, the transfer of income from investments, and the repatriation of wages and salaries. Liberia and the member countries of the West African Monetary Union are the only member countries of the Community that do not impose restrictions on payments and transfers for current invisible transactions. In all other countries either a permission or a more stringent form of regulation, an approval, or even an authorization (Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau) is required. In all member countries of the West African Monetary Union and in Mali, all payments for invisibles to France (and its Overseas Departments and Territories), Monaco, and the Operations Account countries are permitted freely, while all others require approval by the competent authority; the latter requirements do not involve exchange restrictions.

Table 15.ECOWAS: Treatment of Invisibles(As of December 31, 1980)
Payments for InvisiblesProceeds from Invisibles
CountryApproval or

authorization

required
Limited

travel

allocation
Limit on

repatriation

of profits
Limit on

transfer of

salaries
Surrender

requirement
BeninApproval1YesNoNoYes1
Cape VerdeAuthorizationYes22Yes
Gambia, TheAuthorizationYesNoNoYes
GhanaApprovalYesYes40 per cent of net salaryYes
GuineaAuthorizationYesYes40/30 per cent of net salary3Yes
Guinea-BissauApprovalYesYesYesYes
Ivory CoastApproval1YesNoNoYes
LiberiaNoNoNoNoNo
MaliApproval1YesNoNoYes
MauritaniaApprovalYesNoVarying percentagesYes
NigerApproval1YesNo50 per cent of net salaryYes1
NigeriaApprovalYesYes50 per cent of gross incomeYes
SenegalApproval1YesNoNoYes1
Sierra LeoneApprovalYesYesUp to Le 8,000 or 40 per cent of gross salaryYes
TogoApproval1YesNoNoYes1
Upper VoltaApproval1YesNoNoYes1
Sources: IMF, Annual Report on Exchange Arrangements and Exchange Restrictions, 1981; and data provided by the national authorities.

Except France, Monaco, and Operations Account countries.

Not available.

40 per cent for employees in public sector; 30 per cent in private sector.

Sources: IMF, Annual Report on Exchange Arrangements and Exchange Restrictions, 1981; and data provided by the national authorities.

Except France, Monaco, and Operations Account countries.

Not available.

40 per cent for employees in public sector; 30 per cent in private sector.

Limitations on foreign exchange for travel in the form of exchange allocations are found in all countries other than Liberia and the member countries of the West African Monetary Union. The amounts differ widely from country to country and by purpose of travel, i.e., tourist or business. Apart from the general authorization or approval requirement for the repatriation of profits, five countries (Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone) impose additional restrictions on the percentage of profits that can be repatriated. The percentages applying to each country are not disclosed. However, in Guinea the repatriation of at least 20 per cent of profits is guaranteed. Six of the 16 member countries of the Community impose restrictions on the percentage of wages and salaries that foreign workers can transfer to their home countries. In Ghana 40 per cent of the net annual earnings may be remitted, up to a maximum of US$2,600 per year plus leave pay, while in Sierra Leone the limit is 40 per cent of the gross taxable annual wages and salaries or Le 8,000, whichever is lower. In Guinea the percentage differs between employees in the public sector, who may remit 40 per cent of net monthly salaries, and those in the private sector, who are limited to 30 per cent. In Mauritania the permissible percentage varies by family status; in Niger the percentage is normally 50 per cent of net pay, while in Nigeria the limit is 50 per cent of the gross annual income and applications in excess of this limit are examined on their merits. Countries with payments arrears for imports (see Table 13) generally have payments arrears for their invisibles also.

Proceeds from invisibles have to be repatriated and surrendered in all member countries of the Community except Liberia. The member countries of the West African Monetary Union and also Mali, however, exempt from this requirement the proceeds from invisibles accruing in France (and its Overseas Departments and Territories), Monaco, and the Operations Account countries.

Capital Transfers

Table 16 indicates that, with the exception of Liberia, all member countries of the Community control or restrict the outflow of foreign exchange in connection with the acquisition of foreign assets by nationals. Capital outflows are not normally permitted by Cape Verde and are prohibited to nationals by Guinea. In all other countries explicit approval by the authorities, generally the central bank, is required. Usually, approval is given only when special circumstances warrant it; in all other cases it is denied. However, in the member countries of the West African Monetary Union and in Mali, capital outflows destined for France (and its Overseas Departments and Territories), Monaco, and the Operations Account countries are freely permitted.

Table 16.ECOWAS: Controls an Capital Flows(As of December 31, 1980)
Capital OutflowsCapital Inflows
CountryType of

exchange controls
Borrowing

abroad
Foreign

investment
BeninRestricted1ApprovalApproval
Cape VerdeNot normally permittedApprovalApproval
Gambia, TheApprovalFreeFree
GhanaApprovalApprovalApproval
GuineaProhibited2ApprovalApproval
Guinea-BissauApprovalApprovalApproval
Ivory CoastApproval1Approval1Approval1
LiberiaNoneFreeFree
MaliApproval1Approval1Free
MauritaniaApprovalApprovalApproval
NigerApproval1ApprovalApproval
NigeriaApprovalApprovalApproval
SenegalApproval1ApprovalApproval
Sierra LeoneApprovalApprovalApproval
TogoApproval1ApprovalApproval
Upper VoltaApproval1ApprovalApproval
Sources: IMF, Annual Report on Exchange Arrangements and Exchange Restrictions, 1981; and data provided by the national authorities.

Except with respect to France, Monaco, and the Operations Account countries.

With respect to nationals.

Sources: IMF, Annual Report on Exchange Arrangements and Exchange Restrictions, 1981; and data provided by the national authorities.

Except with respect to France, Monaco, and the Operations Account countries.

With respect to nationals.

With respect to capital inflows, a distinction has been made in Table 16 between those resulting from domestic residents borrowing abroad and those resulting from foreign investors acquiring domestic real and/or financial assets. Both types of transaction involve the transfer to foreigners of a title to domestic financial or real capital. Borrowing abroad by domestic residents requires approval in all member countries of the Community except The Gambia and Liberia. Foreign investments in member countries of the Community generally require approval by the central bank; they are free of restrictions only in The Gambia and Liberia. In the member countries of the West African Monetary Union, special controls (in addition to any applicable exchange control requirements) are maintained over borrowing abroad, inward foreign direct investment, and all outward investment in foreign countries, as well as over the issuing, advertising, or offering for sale of foreign securities. Such operations require prior authorization by the responsible ministries in each country. Except for controls over foreign securities, these measures, however, do not apply to the member countries of the Community, nor to France, Monaco, and the Operations Account countries.

Operations Account countries are the member countries of the West African Monetary Union (Benin, Ivory Coast, Niger, Senegal, Togo, and Upper Volta), Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Comoros, the Congo, and Gabon. The convertibility of their currencies into the French franc at a fixed rate is guaranteed with certain qualifications by the French Treasury. The Operations Account countries, in turn, hold the larger part of their foreign exchange reserves in an “Operations Account” with the French Treasury (up to 35 per cent may be held outside the account). These reserves are converted into and denominated in French francs. The related pooling of reserves allows for some flexibility in the use of foreign exchange by individual member countries and involves the possibility of an automatic foreign exchange credit up to a specified limit.

The pound sterling, French franc, U.S. dollar, Swiss franc, and deutsche mark. For a detailed description of the clearing mechanism, see the section on the West African Clearing House in Chapter V.

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