African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Committee on Trade in Goods (CTIG) meet to discuss outstanding work on negotiation including Rules of Origin

15 June 2022

The 9th meeting of the Committee on Trade in Goods of the AfCFTA was held from 6 to 10 June 2022 to consider the Reports of Sub-Committees under the Committee on Trade in Goods.  This covered such vital work as the Sub-Committee on Rules of Origin reports, the finalisation of the drafting the AfCFTA Rules of origin Manual and the AfCFTA Regulation on the treatment of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in accordance with Decision 70 of the 8th Meeting of the Council of Ministers.

The meeting was organized jointly by the AfCFTA Secretariat and the EU-WCO Programme for Rules of Origin in Africa (RoO-Africa Programme), funded by the European Union. About 70 delegates representing 40 Member administrations, the East African Community, ECOWAS and UNCTAD took part in the meeting.

In his opening remarks, the Director for Trade in Goods and Competition Mr. Mohamed Ali, thanked the Chairperson of the Committee for her leadership and guidance towards moving the work forward and thanked the delegates for their hard work on previous meetings. He informed the Committee of the work that had been done since their last meeting, amongst them, the implications of HS2022 amendments on Rules of Origin Appendix IV and Capacity Building Programmes on AfCFTA Rules of Origin.

The Chairperson of the Committee on Trade in Goods welcomed the delegates to the 9th meeting and reminded Member States of the amount of work the Committee still has. She recalled the progress made on outstanding headings and mentioned that some sugar headings were still outstanding.

Over the last months, the WCO has provided technical assistance to the AfCFTA Secretariat and the Member States in relation to the AfCFTA SEZ Regulation, the AfCFTA Manual on Rules of Origin as well as the discussions on the outstanding rules of origin for sugar and textile products.

The meeting adopted the draft AfCFTA Manual on Rules of Origin with amendments for onward submission to the Committee of Senior Trade Official and ultimately to the AfCFTA Council of Ministers responsible for trade. The delegates had discussions on the draft Regulations on Special Economic Zones but could not reach a consensus and, therefore, recommended that the Committee seek policy guidance from high AfCFTA negotiation structures. In addition, the delegates worked on outstanding textiles and sugar issues. They had an in-depth discussion of these HS headings but could not agree on the rules of origin. These outstanding HS headings will be submitted to the higher AfCFTA structures for further guidance.

During the discussions, the EU-WCO Programme for Rules of Origin in Africa provided technical interventions and participated in smaller group assignments which saw a successful adoption of the draft AfCFTA Rules of Origin manual.

In her closing remarks the Chairperson thanked the EU-WCO Programme team for their technical support and for ensuring the success of the meeting. The Director thanked the WCO for their support, including in relation to HS implications on rules of origin and the development of the e-tariff book. The Director stressed the importance of the WCO support to move things forward, adding that the WCO is a neutral international organisation assisting the process with the only interest of finalising the AfCFTA negotiations, so that trade under the AfCFTA agreement can start.