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EAC gazettes Provisional AfCFTA Schedule of Tariff Concessions

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The East African Community (EAC) has published in the EAC Gazette of 6 September 2022 the Legal Notice No. 321/2022 containing the Provisional Schedule of Tariff Concessions for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), referred to the “Category A products”, i.e. those products falling under the first step of the tariff liberalisation process in intra-African trade, covering 90% of tariffs lines of the EAC Customs Tariff. However, as the AfCFTA envisages the liberalization of a further 7% of tariff lines (referred to products considered “sensitive”), Tariff Concessions will need to be revised in future to incorporate the progression in the reduction of customs duty rates also with regard to this group of products. The liberalisation of the remaining 7% of tariff lines will happen within a period of 13 years for LDCs and 10 years for non-LDCs.

Annex 1 to the Protocol on Trade in Goods to the AfCFTA Agreement mandates AfCFTA State Parties to adopt Tariff Concessions Schedules showing the tariff lines that will be liberalized in intra-Africa trade with the progression in the reduction of customs duties from the ordinary rates to zero percent, over a period that is of 5 years for middle or high-income countries, 10 years for Less Developed Countries (LDC) and 15 years for six countries labeled as “G-6” (Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe). However, as many African countries are currently members of Customs Unions, they do not submit such tariff concessions individually, but collectively as a regional block. This is also the case of the Partner States of EAC.

The 8th Meeting of the AfCFTA Council of Ministers Responsible for Trade held in Accra (Ghana) from 28 to 29 January 2022, directed AfCFTA Member States to adopt “provisional” tariff offers showing the annual tariff cuts necessary “to achieve zero-rated duties on 90% of tariffs lines”, further requesting them to undertake the necessary steps for gazetting the schedules of tariff concessions in accordance with the applicable national legislations. This directive, aimed at creating a framework for African States to quickly start trading on a provisional basis under the AfCFTA, was endorsed by the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government at the 35th Ordinary Session of 5 - 6 February 2022 in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia).

Read more on the AfCFTA tariff liberalization process here.

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