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Fruitful ECOWAS Consultation on Rules of Origin in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

04 noviembre 2022

The World Customs Organization (WCO) in partnership with the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) held the first regional consultation under the framework of the EU-WCO Rules of Origin Africa Programme in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire from 24 to 28 October 2022 with the participation of Origin experts from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal. The European Union delegations to Côte d’Ivoire and to Ghana, and the WCO Regional Offices for Capacity Building (ROCB) for West and Central Africa took part in the consultation and contributed to the different sessions.

The objective of the consultation was to exchange views on the current status of applicable preferential rules of origin and trade agreements in the region, discuss challenges in the implementation of rules of origin (RoO) in the ECOWAS region, articulate capacity building needs, and to consider envisaged regional and national initiatives focusing on RoO. The consultation also included a seminar on self-certification and a session on advance rulings.

Ms. Aissata KOFFI YAMEOGO, Program Officer Rules of Origin and Management of Preferential Treatment of ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Stephan BROSSARD, Inclusive and Sustainable Growth Team Leader at the EU delegation to Côte d’Ivoire, Mr. Colonel AWEDE Hugues, Director of Regulation and Litigation at the Côte d'Ivoire Directorate General of Customs, Mr. Abdel Kader SANGHO, Director of WCO WCA ROCB opened the consultation meeting, stressing the importance of streamlined, predictable, and transparent RoO processes and capacity building for all relevant stakeholders for efficient trade facilitation and regional integration.

The discussions and active participation of all participants allowed them to have an overview of the state of play and to shed the light on the main challenges and needs at regional and national levels. The consultation was also an occasion for the exchange of experiences and  lessons learned from different countries, as well as information sharing on the initiatives led by the European Union in the region.

The consultation concluded with recommendations for the adaptation of capacity building and awareness raising activities, agreement on key activities with the ECOWAS Commission to streamline RoO application and implementation of e-certificate and self-certification, and the need to develop and ECOWAS Practical Guide on RoO. The outcomes of this consultation will feed into the work plan of the EU-WCO RoO Africa programme and steer the partnership and support for the ECOWAS Commission and its members.

The EU-WCO Rules of Origin Africa Programme will conduct further consultations with other Regional Economic Communities (RECs) with the aim to provide meaningful and targeted capacity building and technical assistance in the implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement, EPAs, and other FTAs as well as exploring other opportunities for streamlining processes in Africa.

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