Regional Power Asymmetries and their Effects on Regional Integration: The Case of ECOWAS
Abstract: African regional trade integration remains an understudied field as most of the theories and concepts applied to the phenomenon have been largely drawn in the background of the European context. This study aims to study the Economic Community of West African States by applying a new theoretical approach that posits that there are two logics for developing countries to integrate regionally, an extra-regional and intraregional. If these are at odds, the more powerful country of the regional organization is likely to defect from the regional integration project. By constructing trade networks, the study shows that Nigeria holds a hegemonic role within the country and is closely related to its extra-regional trade partners. The study then goes on to investigate instances of Nigerian decision-making in reference to ECOWAS trade integration scheme and attempts to explain its behavior in the background of the theoretical framework. The research concludes that Nigeria acts both as a blockade and a driver towards regional integration in ECOWAS and is not only influenced by their extra-regional interests, but also national interests.
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