Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
ECOWAS (CEDEAO in French and Portuguese) is a regional alliance, created in 1974, that includes: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal. (Togo has observer status). The ECOWAS operates as a free trade area for agricultural products and raw materials and as a preferential trading area for approved industrial products, with a regional cooperation tax (TCR) replacing import duties and encouraging trade among member states. In order to ensure that benefits of the regional grouping flow to all members, especially the least developed ones (Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Burkina Faso), the ECOWAS has established a fund to provide financial services and guarantees to development lenders in both public and private sectors for projects in member states. In addition, ECOWAS has the long-term objective of creating a customs union with extensive harmonization of fiscal policies between member states, though no concrete achievements in this direction have been recorded. Contact: ECOWAS; 60 Yakubu Gowon Crescent; Asokoro District P.M.B. 401 Abuja, Nigeria; Tel:  (9) 314-7647; Web: www.ecowas.int/.