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Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

The 15 members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.  The main goal of ECOWAS is to promote economic cooperation among member states in order to raise living standards and promote economic development. ECOWAS has also worked to address some security issues by developing a peacekeeping force for conflicts in the region. ECOWAS established its free trade area in 1990 and adopted a common external tariff in January 2015.

In September 2016, USTR hosted ECOWAS officials for the second meeting of the United States-ECOWAS Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Council.  Among the topics discussed were a review of current activities in support of shared trade and investment objectives, a vision for the ECOWAS – U.S. trade relationship in the medium to long-term, and broadening ECOWAS – U.S. trade and investment cooperation to new areas.

The United States had a $14.1 billion in total (two ways) goods trade with ECOWAS countries during 2017. Goods exports totaled $4.8 billion; goods imports totaled $9.3 billion. The U.S. goods trade deficit with ECOWAS countries was $4.5 billion in 2017.

Exports

U.S. goods exports to ECOWAS countries in 2017 were $4.8 billion, up 15.0% ($631 million) from 2016.

The top 5 U.S. export markets in the ECOWAS countries for 2017 were: Nigeria ($2.2 billion), Ghana ($860 million), Togo ($482 million), Cote d’Ivoire ($320 million), and Benin ($250 million).

The top export categories (2-digit HS) in 2017 were: vehicles and parts ($983 million), mineral fuels ($939 million), , machinery  ($606 million), cereals ($527 million) and plastics ($287 million).

Imports

U.S. goods imports from ECOWAS countries in 2017 were $9.3 billion, up 58.6% ($3.4 billion) from 2016.

The top 5 U.S. import suppliers from the ECOWAS countries for 2017 were: Nigeria ($7.1 billion), Cote d'Ivoire ($1.2 billion), Ghana ($750 million), Liberia ($91 million), and Senegal ($72 million).

The top import categories (2-digit HS) in 2017 were: mineral fuels ($7.5 billion), cocoa and cocoa products ($1.2 billion), rubber ($160 million), edible fruit & nuts (cashews)  ($88 million), and artificial flowers, feather or down articles ($57 million).

Trade Balance

The U.S. goods trade deficit with ECOWAS countries was $1.7 billion in 2016 and $4.5 billion in 2017. The U.S. goods trade deficit with ECOWAS countries increased by 169% in 2017 compared to 2016.