ECCAS Members gather to align Common External Tariff on HS 2022

28 April 2022

From 11 to 15 April 2022, eleven Members of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) held a meeting to continue the ongoing work towards the development of a common external tariff (CET) for the Central African region. The meeting took place in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was organized in close cooperation with the WCO, in the framework of the EU-WCO Programme for Harmonized System in Africa (HS-Africa Programme), funded by the European Union.

The meeting brought together tariff experts from Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Rwanda and Sao Tome and Principe, as well as the Secretariats of the CEMAC, the ECCAS and representatives of the WCO. It was preceded by thorough preparatory work done by the Steering Committee on the Rationalization of RECs in Central Africa to develop a draft harmonized CET. On behalf of the HS-Africa Programme, tariff experts from Customs administrations of Algeria and France participated in that review and provided their advice with regard to aligning the draft CET on the HS 2022 version.

The CEMAC and the ECCAS have been working towards creating an integrated regional space to guarantee optimal conditions for a wider market within the Central African region. Development of a harmonized CET is viewed as a concrete step towards achieving these objectives and an important prerequisite for the regional integration and trade facilitation. The meeting provided an opportunity to continue this important work and finalize the draft CET based on the 2022 version of the HS.

In his opening address, H.E. Gilberto Da Piedade Verissimo, ECCAS Commission President, welcomed meeting participants highlighting the significance of the harmonized CET for the ECCAS as one of the most essential pillars in the legal architecture of the Customs union to be established by ECCAS countries. These remarks were echoed by H.E. Didier Mazenga Mukanzu, Minister of Regional Integration and Francophonie of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who stressed the need for continued efforts to take the Community to a higher degree of integration so that trade and industry within the region could thrive and prosper.

The meeting was attended by representatives of both Customs administrations and Ministries of Trade from ECCAS Member states. Meeting participants examined the outstanding questions related to the HS 2017 version of the draft harmonized CET as well as its HS 2022 version. The work accomplished during the meeting is also an important landmark in the development of a framework of migration of the CET to new versions of the HS, to ensure that the Community and its Members implement HS amendments in a timely and coordinated manner. In conclusion of the meeting, it was agreed that the ECCAS would continue its cooperation with the WCO to fully implement the harmonized CET, with the support of the HS-Africa Programme.

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