#1 The Political Economy of Regional Inequalities in the WAMZ: Integrating Economic Governance and the Dilemmas of Structural Change.

Douglason G. Omotor MNES

yomotor@yahoo.com, domotor@waifem-cbp.org

Business Development Unit,

West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM),

Lagos, Nigeria.

+234 803 4083 112

Extended Abstract

The economics of regional integration perceive no less than three means of amalgams- economic and trade integration, political integration and physical integration. These processes respectively relate to phases like free trade area, customs union, monetary union etc; coordination and harmonization of actions by authorities and; integration projects (infrastructure and services). However, in the discourse of WAMZ members’ structural weaknesses that have impeded the integration process; causes of regional imbalances are paid lip services without deliberate concern as to what policy reforms may be required to ease this fragility. Economic structural changes, economic integration at different scale and governance integrity in the face of economic policy formulation have been recognized as possible factors that could be used to engender their effects. The paper shall endeavor to evaluate the mentioned issues as they relate to WAMZ member countries by identifying the regional inequalities (measured by per capita GDP), competitiveness and fixed capital formation. These have been varying and imploding over time. The scheme is to see how the polarized structures can be leveled and regional macroeconomic policy measures implemented to strengthened poor infrastructure framework, weak institutional capacity and individual member states competitiveness.

A scan at the relevant literature relay the empirical validity of the facts that bulk of the differences in the pattern of structural change between regional members’ productivity is due to the mismatch of labour mobility from high-to-low productive sectors. Some factors so far identified for this spurious movements are; i.) in countries with relatively large export share of natural resources, structural change has not been growth inclusive and sustainable. The high growth rates occasioned by high primary commodities export prices are unable to absorb the surplus labour from agriculture; and ii.) development partners (DPs) in aid dependent member countries devote much more resources on impact regulatory reforms and diminutive resources to critical areas like productive investment, infrastructure and innovation. These factors no doubt underscore the zone’s sectoral disparities that have affected the politics and crisis of confidence in advancing the integration space.

The methodological approach is based on: the statistical documentation of the WAMZ member countries inequalities, competitiveness and the graphical presentation of their evolution and status in recent times; an examination of the countries’ inequalities within the context of general structural imbalances and competitiveness of the economies with reference to general macroeconomic policy measures over past decades; an evaluation of the role of regional policy implemented through the various policy frameworks and an assessment of the zones’ future prospects for the common currency and monetary integration process in the conclusions. In the passing, support for non-traditional exports, diversification, skill clusters and industrial agglomerations should be anchored in the contemporary integration agenda to create sustainable jobs and inclusive growth.

Key words: regional inequalities in WAMZ, structural change, competitiveness, productive investments, contemporary integration agenda, inclusive growth

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