Friday, June 09, 2023
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Desiderio Consultants Ltd. is a think tank and a network of independent professional international development consultants established to promote and influence customs & trade-related policies in African nations to achieve trade facilitation reforms aimed at improving international and regional trade
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Harmonising road transport regulatory instruments in Africa

Today is the last day of the four-days continental workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa, to examine the status of harmonisation of Africa's cross-border road transport regulatory frameworks. Organised by the African Union Commission (AUC) in partnership with the European Union (EU)-funded Tripartite Transport and Transit Facilitation Programme (TTTFP), the workshop analysed best practices on policies and standards on road transport regulation harmonisation in Africa, including proposals for developing a Vehicle Load Management (VLM) strategy aimed at ensuring harmonised vehicle overload controls over the roads within the entire continent.


The initiatives to increase intra-African trade that Africa really needs

It is sufficient to visit a few supermarkets and outlets in Africa to realize that the vast majority of products that are sold in the continent are imported from third countries. Although today all African countries are engaged in the production of consumer goods, Africans still seem to prefer imported goods to local products. The reasons? They are many.


COMESA moves towards the adoption of a regional Single Window

With 21 member countries, trade within the COMESA region can be challenging, as traders are confronted with extensive and duplicated documentation transmissions, to both the export and the import country, in different data formats and data types. To overcome this challenge, COMESA is working with its member States to launch a Regional Electronic Single Window (called "COMSW") that will enable trade and customs documents transmitted by exporters to the country of exit of goods to be used as entry documentation in other COMESA countries where they are imported, so to avoid duplications in the transmission of such information. This is the first experience of such type in Africa. Electronic documents that will be exchanged through the COMSW will include import and export licenses, permits and various types of certificates required for completing cross-border trade transactions.


African use of preferential trade regimes higher in the North-South than in South-South range

study made by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the UNCTAD Secretariat sheds light on one important aspect of regional integration, namely, the effective use of the trade preferences provided by Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) such as the COMESA and SADC FTAs, or the EAC Customs Union, compared to other preferential concessions granted by developed countries, namely: Canada, the European Union, Japan and the United States of America, collectively indicated as “QUAD” countries. The study notes that utilization rates of the preferences established by such RECs are lower than the average registered under preferential concessions granted by QUAD.


Lessons from Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia that Africa can learn for facilitating trade

Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation (GATF), a public-private partnership dedicated to international trade facilitation which supports governments in developing and least developed countries in implementing the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, published the Annual Report 2022. The report describes ten projects implemented in seven countries, including in Africa, where the main results of regulatory reforms, process simplifications and digitalization projects in Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia are presented. The report shows that implementation of trade facilitation reforms does not happen in a vacuum. These reforms cannot be designed by uniquely taking into account the needs and perspective of traders, but also the interests of governments, or they risk to fail. The report, in particular, raises a red flag on some problems that are common to many other African countries. Among them, the one that emerges more clearly from the document is the fear of revenue losses and the over-sensitiveness by border agencies to risks of frauds, two factors that explain why such agencies tend to implement stricter controls at borders that often discourage trade.


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