Palm Oil gets a new boost in ECOWAS

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Massandje Toure-Litse

By Michael Olugbode

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has taken a step to boost the production of palm oil and its sales in the sub-region with a convocation of the meeting of stakeholders to evolve strategies to end the bottlenecks that prevail in the industry.

Palm oil, often referred to as the red gold, is indigenous to West Africa. However, various bottlenecks consistently made the sub-region’s prominence in its manufacture and sale to dwindle. Indeed, stakeholders were often known to depend on importation to even meet their own domestic needs even when there was no issue about their capacity to mass produce.

Speaking at the meeting of the free movement of palm oil under the ECOWAS Preferential Tariff Regime (ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme, ETLS) in Abuja, the ECOWAS Commissioner of Economic Affairs and Agriculture, Massandje Toure-Litse said it had become inevitable for the meeting to work out modalities for tackling challenges faced by stakeholders in the palm oil industry in the sub-region.

Toure-Litse said one of the challenges in palm oil trading in the region was taxation. She explained that ECOWAS ETLS had eradicated tariffs in business transactions within the region. She said: “Some products will go to some countries and the countries will ask them to pay tariffs when we know that under ECOWAS law, goods produced in our region should be free of tax. We have invited all the countries to come and have a discussion to solve the issues in the commercialisation of palm oil in the region. The countries invited are Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia.”

On his part, the ECOWAS Commission’s Director of Customs, Union and Taxation, Salifou Tiemtore, while lamenting that West African countries are not producing enough palm oil to meet members’ needs, said there is urgent need to increase production and ensure that the bottlenecks affecting the industry are removed.

Tiemtore said: “Let me tell you the truth, till now, with the statistics we have, we still need to import palm oil. What we are producing is not enough for our own consumption.If you take a country like Nigeria, it has the capacity to double its production in terms of palm oil but we need to put in place some incentives so that through ECOWAS ETLS Nigeria can cover the Nigerian market and also go beyond the Nigerian market.”

He said the region has the potential to meet the needs of member states if support were given to entrepreneurs to expand production and take advantage of the ECOWAS ETLS.

In his address of welcome, the Head of the ECOWAS National Unit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yakubu Dadu, said despite the remarkable success of the ETLS, “we find ourselves facing challenges within the pivotal palm oil sector. The cross-border movement of palm oil has encountered origin-related disagreements among member states, posing a threat to the sector’s stability and growth potential. It is in recognition of these challenges that we have gathered here today, united by a shared commitment to have frank discussions that would strengthen and protect the palm oil sector, ensuring its resilience against external competition.”

The meeting is a platform for conversation with palm oil-producing countries and industry stakeholders to establish measurable metric thresholds based on the production capacity of palm oil, taking into account the economic conditions of ECOWAS member states.


“We will delve into discussions on palm oil production capacity in the region, analyze import and export data, identify and understand the challenges faced by the sector under the ETLS, and collectively propose lasting solutions to address these challenges,” he said.

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