The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper provides an overview of trade reform in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) since 1996 and a quantitative assessment of potential effects on trade patterns and tariff revenue of the current reform agenda. Despite evidence of significant trade complementarities within WAEMU, implementation of the union's current trade regime still suffers from persistent non-tariff barriers and administrative weaknesses. Based on an assessment of prospects for further trade integration, the paper also recommends strengthening the implementation of the present tariff union and supports the plan to extend it to all ECOWAS members. Finally, the paper stresses that an Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU could bring to the region the political momentum needed to address the weaknesses of the current trade regime, while also underlining the corresponding challenges in terms of trade diversion and tariff revenue losses.