An inaugural launch in Accra, seat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), held by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the European Union (EU) on July 19-20, has heralded the launch of a programme on the implementation and application of rules of origin for enhanced intra-African trade.
The WCO said the initiative, dubbed the EU-WCO Rules of Origin Africa Programme, is aimed at supporting the African continent to improve its capacity to deal with rules of origin (RoO) and ultimately to support the harmonised and well-coordinated implementation and application of the RoO.
Implementation of the rules are in keeping with decisions made by the AfCFTA Secretariat and other regional and international commitments.
The conference was attended by African customs administration experts on RoO, Ghana Revenue Authority as the host customs administration, the Secretariat, the Tripartite Free Trade Area Task Force, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), WCO Regional Offices for Capacity Building (ROCB), private sector representatives, Unctad, WTO, ITC, tralac, the European Delegation, and the WCO.
Konstantinos Kaiopoulos, director of Tariff and Trade Affairs at the WCO, stressed the central role of RoO for the implementation of any free trade agreement.
“He expressed his expectation that this programme will greatly contribute in building the capacity of customs and relevant stakeholders for enhanced understanding, implementation, and application of rules of origin in Africa,” a WCO statement said.
The head of cooperation at the EU Delegation to Ghana, Massimo Mina, stated that the European Union strongly supported Africa’s economic integration.
“Therefore, the EU-WCO RoO Africa Programme is an important new step by the EU and the WCO to support and promote Africa’s economic integration.”