On 01 April 2021, the World Customs Organization (WCO) announced that in an effort to strengthen the inclusive and transparent character of the process of implementation of the Harmonized System (HS), the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) had recently made available the HS2022 amendments to its Common External Tariff for public consultation. All SACU Member States - Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa (BELNS countries) - have simultaneously placed draft tariff amendments on their official websites, inviting comments and feedback from the public.
Public consultation on draft tariff amendments is part of the SACU strategy to improve the process of migration of the Union’s Common External Tariff (CET) to new versions of the HS. The strategy is intended to ensure that the process is handled in a meaningful and transparent fashion, creating a level playing field for all stakeholders wishing to contribute to this work. The SACU has been successfully implementing the strategy in cooperation with the EU-WCO Programme for HS in Africa (HS-Africa Programme), funded by the European Union (EU).
The publication of draft tariff amendments is one of the initial phases in the process of implementation of the HS2022 amendments. Comments and feedback received from the public will be discussed at a regional workshop to be held later in the year, which will be followed by further consultations before the amended tariff is finalised.
The improved mechanism of involving the public in the tariff amendment process provides better opportunities for traders and other interested parties to comment on the proposed tariff amendments. It also increases the level of awareness of the public about upcoming changes in advance of their entry into force, in line with the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement requirements.
Story by: Riaan de Lange