What is the change? The Economic Community of West African States has agreed in principle to admit Morocco as the bloc’s 16th member.

What does the change mean? Once membership is approved, Moroccan nationals will enjoy free movement within the bloc. Details must be worked out before Morocco’s ECOWAS membership becomes official.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Who is affected: Moroccan nationals and nationals of the current 15 ECOWAS countries.
  • Business impact: ECOWAS’s acceptance of Morocco as a member would provide significant business benefits for Moroccan nationals and Moroccan companies, as they would enjoy free movement and free trade within the bloc.
  • Next steps: ECOWAS officials said they must fully consider the implications of Morocco’s membership before the country may formally join.

Background: ECOWAS is a trading bloc in West Africa with 15 current members:  Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. Morocco applied to join the bloc after rejoining the African Union in January. In addition to Morocco, Mauritania is hoping to rejoin ECOWAS, and Tunisia is seeking observer status with the organization.

BAL Analysis: Morocco’s membership in ECOWAS would benefit Moroccan companies and business travelers. It would also signal Morocco’s continued interest in building ties with other African nations after focusing for years on developing relations with European countries.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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