Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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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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AfCFTA seen from another angle: critical flaws and possible risks

A post published on the website bilaterals.org, a collaborative space that supports movements struggling against bilateral trade and investment deals which are accused to serve more the interests of corporations than people, raises concerns regarding the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and in particular regarding the Protocol on digital trade. We will not address all the points in the article, but at least a few ones deserve attention. The post has a very critical view in general of the AfCFTA and its Protocols, being in some cases overly pessimistic regarding the purported dangerous effects of this agreement. In any case, it also rases some interesting issues that deserve at least some attention.


WTO concludes sixth review of the trade policies and practices of Morocco

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has completed the sixth review of the trade policies and practices of Morocco. All the WTO members, including Customs Unions, have their trade policies periodically reviewed by the Organization in order to verify coherence with the basic WTO principles and rules. The frequency of such assessment varies depending on their share of world trade in goods and services.


New North African earthquake threatens the foundations of the African Regional Economic Communities system

Regional Economic Communities, or “RECs” are a peculiarity and a feature of the African economic integration model. Some of them were existing already before the establishment of the Organization for the African Unity (OAU), the predecessor of the African Union, like in the case of SACU, a customs union that is considered the ancient in the world, or the Council of Understanding (Conseil de l’Entente), a West African regional co-operation forum created in May 1959 by Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) and Dahomey (now Benin), and subsequently joined by Togo in 1966. The Treaty of Abuja (1991) at art. 2.a introduced the principle of the strengthening of existing RECs and of their creation in the various sub-regions where they did not exist, defining them as foundation (“building blocks”) of the future African Economic Community (article 88). The role of RECs as building blocks of the African integration process is also reiterated in the last recital of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement and by art. 5, which defines them as building blocks of the AfCFTA.


Plain-language glossary facilitates understanding of the AfCFTA

In December 2022 we published a post titled “A glossary and a private sector mapping study to support AfCFTA implementation”, announcing the launch by the AfCFTA Secretariat, jointly with the International Trade Centre (ITC), of a publication titled “Understanding the African Continental Free Trade Area: a glossary”. The purpose of this booklet, which has now been made available on the AfCFTA Secretariat website, is to provide some historical context regarding the birth of the agreement, its objectives and status of implementation and, above all, to facilitate the understanding of the key concepts, legal provisions and technical rules at the basis of the AfCFTA Agreement and its complementary Protocols.


First baby steps for the design of the AfCFTA e-CO System take place in Nairobi

The AfCFTA Secretariat launched today in Nairobi, Kenya, a 4-day session of experts from the Secretariat itself and national States, dedicated to the development of the AfCFTA e-CO System, an electronic origin certification system where customs administrations and other designated authorities of the AfCFTA State Parties will be digitally interconnected in a network that will allow them to directly exchange electronic certificates of origin with each other, without going through traders, as it happens with the paper-based certificate. The certificate of origin is like a passport for goods that guarantees that a product is originating from a certain country. Such certificate is the precondition for accessing to preferential customs duties rates when imported in a country which is member of the same Free Trade Area of the one from where they are exported. The purpose of the AfCFTA e-CO system is to allow traders to benefit from such a preferential treatment under the AfCFTA without the need of going physically to Customs (or other designated authority), as they will be able to apply, obtain and monitor the issuance of the certificate through an online platform, that will dispatch the certificate directly to Customs (or other designated authority) of the importing country. This system is therefore expected to reduce the time and cost of issuance of certificates of origin, but also to minimise possibilities of frauds and of alteration of the certificate, being it totally dematerialised.


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