What are the four benefits of ECOWAS to member countries? The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is working tirelessly towards achieving its vision of creating a borderless region where the people of the West African region will have unhindered access to the region’s abundant resources and will be able to exploit same through the creation of opportunities under a sustainable environment. However, resources within the region, just like in every other region worldwide, are not evenly distributed. Disparities exist among countries in terms of population/market size, landmass and richness in natural resources, as well as size of GDP and the economic strength of national currencies. These have prompted strong concern that membership of a common trade zone may confer disproportionate advantage on smaller countries at the expense of their bigger counterparts. This article examines the advantages and the disadvantages associated with the Nigerian membership of ECOWAS in the light of the above mentioned concern. Advantages of Membership of ECOWAS Pillay (2016), noted that membership of a trade union confers certain benefits to a nation,, some of which include access to larger markets, opportunities for economies of scale, access to foreign capital and technology as well as tax harmonization to eliminate unhealthy tax competition; Madyo (2008, 39-46) categorized these benefits as static and dynamic. Citing Carbaugh (2004), Madyo opined that static benefits of regional trade unions are those benefits relating to production efficiency and consumer welfare. These include lower cost of goods and the increases in production as a result of lower or zero tariffs. On the other hand, dynamic benefits of regional trade union result from the emerging larger markets created by the free movement of goods and services within the bloc. They include uniformity in prices, reduced costs of transaction, certainty for investors, improved competition, economies of large scale, and factor productivity. Nigeria’s membership of ECOWAS has been beneficial in a number of ways and it is expected that other benefits will materialize in due course. Some of the benefits that have accrued to the Country as a result of her membership of ECOWAS include: Increase in trade and consumer choice: Zero tariffs on goods traded among member states increases trade, makes for better returns and most importantly enhances consumer choice in Nigeria. Increase in tax revenue: While the Nigerian consumers benefit from greater competition in product markets, the government also benefit from the increase in VAT revenue as a result of increase in commercial activities. As more products enter the country from within the region, more goods are traded in markets and this translates to higher VAT and income tax for the government. Larger market for intermediate goods: Though a large market already exist in Nigeria for consumer goods, with 15 countries in the ECOWAS community trading duty-free, the export market for the Nigerian intermediate products becomes bigger and more profitable. More profit means more tax revenue for the Nigerian government. Opportunity for Small and Micro Enterprises (SMEs) to advance into the world market: Exporting within ECOWAS region has served as a pivot towards worldwide expansion of exports for many small companies in Nigeria – by initially building export capacity and taking advantage of zero tariffs within the community, these companies have leveraged this capability to achieve competitive advantage in exporting to other countries of the world. Strengthening institutions in the members: Membership of ECOWAS is helping Nigeria strengthen her economic and political institutions. This in turn is promoting improvement in business environment. For instance, the establishment of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) was mandated by the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA). GIABA is a specialized institution of ECOWAS that is responsible for strengthening the capacity of member states towards the prevention and control of money laundering and terrorist financing in the region. Conserving the foreign reserve: The use of national currencies in trade and non-trade transactions within the bloc has brought about great savings in the use of Nigeria’s foreign reserves. This helps conserve the country’s dollar reserve for other pressing needs. Expansion of multinational companies: ECOWAS encourages the liberalisation of services market which hitherto was subject to greater regulation and protection. This lowering of entry barriers has led to the expansion of Nigerian banks, insurance companies and other financial service industries across all West African countries. Since companies’ worldwide income is subject to tax in Nigeria, this means more tax revenue for the Nigerian government. Infrastructural development: ECOWAS is into joint development of regional infrastructural projects like transnational highways, oil and gas pipelines and railways that facilitates trade. Nigeria is benefitting from a number of such projects. For example, the Dakar-Lagos coastal corridor (PIDA), Nigeria-Niger-Algeria gas pipeline as well as Trans Sahelian construction of Zinder-Nigeria Boarder road among others. Elimination of tax competition: By establishing common external tariffs and tax harmonization, ECOWAS is moving towards the elimination of tax competition and unnecessary race to the bottom among countries in the region. Economic cooperation: Nigeria’s membership of ECOWAS has helped enhance political and economic cooperation among its neighbours and also boost exchange of information.