WCO conducts a Refresher workshop for Accredited and Pre-Accredited Experts on Rules of Origin

28 April 2023

From 18 to 20 April 2023, the World Customs Organization (WCO) conducted a refresher workshop for African Accredited and Pre-Accredited Experts on Rules of Origin, in Brussels, within the framework of the EU‑WCO Rules of Origin Africa Programme (RoO Africa Programme), funded by the European Union (EU).

The workshop took place as part of the WCO support for the effective implementation of the AfCFTA agreement and in line with the work plan and capacity building needs agreed with the AfCFTA Secretariat. The objective of the refresher workshop was to further enhance the knowledge of WCO Accredited and Pre-Accredited Experts on current issues around rules of origin, with a focus on the AfCFTA agreement, hence creating a solid base of trainers in Africa to deliver on national and regional capacity building activities.

In her opening remarks, Ms. Macarena Ruiz-San-Jose, Programme Manager, Directorate General for International Partnerships, at the European Commission, highlighted that the EU strongly supports Africa's economic integration through several partnerships and programmes. This workshop, among other actions of the RoO Africa Programme, is considered a significant step to build capacity and expertise on the AfCFTA RoO, thus ensuring effective and efficient implementation of the AfCFTA agreement and ultimately supporting the AU objective on boosting intra-Africa trade.

In her opening remarks, Ms. Gael Grooby, WCO Deputy Director, Tariff and Trade Affairs, thanked the EU for its support, via the EU-WCO RoO Africa Programme, for both for the refresher course and the other support activities to African partners. She highlighted that continuous learning through refresher workshops for all accredited and pre-accredited experts is a priority for the WCO to ensure the highest standards of expertise are maintained, building a strong base for member countries and WCO capacity building. She noted that, with the funding available via the EU-WCO RoO Africa Programme, there had been extensive training activities in Africa, meaning that many African experts had been able to complete the transition from pre-accredited to accredited status in the last six months after co-facilitating training activities with the WCO.  This was creating an exceptional pool of Accredited Experts for the region.

Rules of origin play a critical component in Customs clearance; thus, knowledge attained from the training will contribute to the efficiency and effectiveness of Customs officials and the trade community. During the workshop, the WCO facilitators presented the EU-WCO Rules of Origin Africa Programme and an overview of the AfCFTA rules of origin. As is was an interactive workshop, participants presented and led discussion sessions and exercises on key AfCFTA concepts on origin determination, such as Origin Criteria, Cumulation, Certification and Verification and other issues related to operational and procedural issues and the establishment of efficient AfCFTA origin management structures. Experts also examined several provisions, including Article 19 of the Agreement Establishing the AfCFTA, to understand the article's impact on AfCFTA RoO implementation.

The workshop was an opportunity for all participants to familiarize themselves with the new WCO Accredited Customs Experts (ACE) Portal launched in September 2022. The ACE Portal is a web-based platform that facilitates the WCO’s management and mobilization of subject matter experts from a global perspective and gives the Experts the ability to manage their profiles and availability.

The EU-WCO Rules of Origin Africa Programme will continue its work on rules of origin within the continent through capacity building to efficiently implement the AfCFTA and relevant free trade agreements.

For further information please contact EU-WCORoOAfrica.Program@wcoomd.org