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Sub-Saharan African countries have traditionally lagged the rest of the developing world in terms of overall trade relative to gross domestic product. But, there is growing interest among these countries to initiate trade policies and improve quality of institutions as a way to promote trade and boost foreign direct investment. This article extends the gravity model of trade to include proxies for trade reform policy and institutional quality among the 15 countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for data spanning 1984–2006. Alternative methods of estimation based on ordinary least squares, Heckman two-step procedure, and Poisson pseudo-maximum likelihood produce predictions that are consistent with the standard gravity model. They further highlight the evidence of restrictive trade policies and weak institutions that contribute to the failure of ECOWAS countries to boost bilateral trade. (JEL F13, F15, O19, O55)