WCO attends the AfCFTA Forum on breaking down barriers to trade

04 七月 2019

At the invitation of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the WCO participated in a forum on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), under the framework of the EU-WCO Programme for the Harmonized System (HS) in Africa.  The forum was organized jointly by the UN ECA, the European Union and the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, in collaboration with the African Union Commission.  It was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 27 to 28 June – only a few days before the official launch of the AfCFTA, which is to take place at the African Union Summit in Niamey in July.

The WCO participated in the panel session on breaking down geographical and logistical barriers to trade and investment in the Horn.  The WCO delegate emphasized the pivotal role played by Customs in ensuring the successful implementation of the AfCFTA.  Aware of the challenges inherent in the complex process of carrying out the continental free trade area in Africa, the WCO equips Customs with all the essential tools and instruments, based on modern standards, technological assistance and international best practices.  Such support provides a solid framework for harmonization and modernization of Customs’ work at national and regional levels.  Participants were encouraged to get the full benefit of cooperation with the WCO and move forward the integration and modernization agenda in Africa.

The forum brought together ministers and other policy makers, private sector, academia and international organizations to discuss a wide range of issues related to implementation of the AfCFTA.  More specifically, the participants examined ways to reduce logistical and regulatory bottlenecks hindering the flows of trade and investment in Africa, in order to ensure that the AfCFTA becomes a reality and contributes to Africa’s socio-economic development, with a special focus on the countries of the Horn of Africa.  The forum provided an excellent opportunity to exchange ideas and engage with intra-African actors across a diverse range of different sectors.