Gabon Customs reviews tariff in light of national industrialization policy

29 June 2021

Customs tariffs have long been hailed as multipurpose instruments used not only for fiscal purposes but also for furthering national development goals and promoting industrialization processes. The methods of designing Customs tariffs so that they could be put to work in supporting the national development agenda were discussed during an online workshop conducted for the General Directorate of the Gabon Customs on 21 June 2021.

The workshop was organized with the support of the EU-WCO Programme for Harmonized System in Africa (HS-Africa Programme), in cooperation with the Commission of the Economic Community of Central African States (CEMAC). It brought together a group of experts of the Gabon Customs, and representatives of Customs administrations of Cameroun, the Republic of the Congo, the CEMAC Commission and the WCO.

In his presentation, a representative of the Gabon Customs explained that the intention was to create additional subdivisions beyond those of the CEMAC Common External Tariff to identify products of the wood and lumber industry with different value addition levels. Gabon has been pursuing a policy of industrialization of the wood production chain, and the distinction between different categories of wood depending on their degree of manufacture would need to be established in the tariff to create the required incentive mechanism.

Experts from Customs administrations of Cameroun and the Republic of the Congo shared their perspective on how the structure of national tariffs could be adapted to such policies, based on their administrations’ experience. To ensure a consistent and harmonized approach to this matter within the region, further discussions will be held at the upcoming meeting of the CEMAC Nomenclature and Tariff Committee. Participants thanked the HS-Africa Programme for creating a platform for the exchange of experience on the matter and fostering the best practice for sharing.

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