Sunday, 16th July 2023 Dar es Salaam, Tanzania-, The East African Business Council commenced a three-day workshop on the African Continental Free Trade Area Rules of Origin with the support of the World Customs Organization, funded by the European Union. The workshop convened together National Associations, Chambers of Commerce from the Region, and delegates from the European Union and EAC Secretariat.
Board Member of the East African Business Council, Mr. Paul Makanza, in his opening remarks on behalf of the East African Business Council, extended his appreciations to the European Union and World Customs Organization for playing a pivotal role in implementing training on the Rules of Origin in the Region. He said that partnership in this endeavor is of vital importance for capacity building and knowledge sharing in fostering a vibrant, inclusive trade environment. AfCFTA represents a milestone in the quest for economic integration on our continent by creating a single market of 1.3 billion people and a combined GDP of USD3.4 trillion. AfCFTA has the potential to unlock opportunities for businesses across the continent. However, to fully realize the advantages of AfCFTA, it is crucial to understand a number of aspects related to the agreement, and the most fundamental aspect is the Rules of Origin. It plays a crucial role in ensuring fair competition, preventing trade deflection, and safeguarding products originating from the Region. A comprehensive understanding of this training will help the region navigate through the complexities of trading and harness the potential of the AfCFTA.
Head of cooperation to EU, Mr. Cedric Merel said that Rules of Origin are a powerful trade policy instrument, as they contribute to ensuring that trade agreements are correctly implemented. These Rules are essential to determining the customs duties and taxes to be applied to goods, as they provide significant criteria used to determine the economic nationality of the goods. Criteria for Rules of Origin in the context of AfCFTA cannot be underestimated, as they are used to determine which goods are produced and manufactured in Africa. The EU, together with European member states, strongly confirms its commitment to step up support for African Countries on economic integration and trade matters in line with African Union Agenda 2063.
The Principle Customs Officer, Mr. Donald Tindamanyire, on behalf of the EAC Secretariat, said that the AfCFTA agreement is a landmark achievement in the history of Regional integration on the continent. It is anticipated that Rules of Origin will determine trade liberalization under the agreement, which will be a game changer in African Industrialization by scrapping import tariffs and quotas. It is anticipated that once we start implementing the AfCFTA agreement, trade will boost by 33% once state parties fully liberalize their tariffs, which in turn will attract intra-African investment and create market opportunities to foster African Industrialization through Regional Value Chains. Implementation of AfCFTA will create a shock absorber for global shocks that disrupt supply chains, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Russian and Ukrainian sanctions.
The training focuses on discussing:
- Introduction to Rules of Origin in International Trade
- The content of the AfCFTA Rules of Origin
- EPA, Tripartite, and other regional free trade
- Origin certification and verification