West African agriculture rice production represents only 50% of consumers' needs in the sub-region. The on-going negotiation on the Agreement on Agriculture and the establishment of a custom union within the ECOWAS offer an opportunity to reopen the discussion on the possible impact of appropriate trade regulation to stimulate the development of the domestic rice value chain. Based on the review of the outcome of recent studies and national statistics, comparing the rice sector history across different West African countries, the poster underlines that the competitiveness of domestic rice production does not depend only upon the cost efficiency of rice producer. It is adversely affected by the performance of the post-harvest operations which does not allow domestic product to match the quality of imported rice in terms of homogeneity and cleanliness. Consumers are ready to pay for a higher price for imported clean and well packed rice. Therefore the design of appropriate trade regulation cannot be limited to a discussion on the level of tariff to be applied by the ECOWAS custom union. Trade regulation could be used as buffer mechanisms to mitigate the negative impact of unpredictable world rice market trends on the willingness of private entrepreneur to invest in rice marketing and processing improvement.