Gambia gears up to accede to the Harmonized System Convention

26 April 2019

Within the framework of EU-WCO Programme for HS in Africa, funded by the European Union, the WCO conducted a diagnostic mission to support the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) in its efforts to accede to the Harmonized System (HS) Convention. The mission, which took place in Banjul, Gambia from 15 to 18 April 2019, was a good opportunity to hold a series of meetings and consultations with GRA’s senior management, tariff classification experts and officers from other relevant units to discuss the process of becoming a Contracting Party to the HS Convention. The GRA’s senior management organized a visit to Mrs. Ada Gaye, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs of the Gambia, during which the project team stressed the importance and advantages of accession to the HS Convention.

The discussions during the different meetings highlighted that proper implementation of the HS at the national level would stretch far beyond the formal procedure of depositing an instrument of accession to the HS Convention and must always be supported by a sound tariff classification work model, including a set of respective policies, practices and infrastructure. Based on the WCO Diagnostic Tool on tariff classification work and infrastructure, the WCO team carried out a comprehensive assessment of the existing tariff classification work model and provided recommendations to the GRA as to how the national tariff classification work could be improved. There has been a consensus among the different GRA’s senior management officials that ensuring timely implementation of the latest version of the HS is crucial and that the importance of strengthening the regional co-operation with the ECOWAS and its members when working on the Common External Tariff is indispensable.

On the continental scale, Gambia was congratulated on becoming the 22nd nation to have approved the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, whereby the minimum threshold for the agreement to come into force has been reached. Acceding to the HS Convention is expected to be the next milestone that the country is soon to pass in its desire to facilitate trade and speak with the rest of the African continent one common language of international trade – the HS. This mission was a first step in a process by which the WCO will provide tailor-made assistance to Gambia in adhering to and applying the HS Convention.

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