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EAC expansion: towards a possible reconfiguration of Regional Economic Communities in Eastern Africa?

During the Africa Investment Forum, held in Marrakech, Morocco, from 8 to 10 November 2023, the Secretary General of the EAC indicated that Somalia is likely to be admitted to the EAC by the end of this month. More importantly, it seems that also Ethiopia and Djibouti showed interest to join the bloc. If this will happen, this Regional Economic Community (REC) will expand considerably its geographical reach to cover a good part of the Horn of Africa peninsula. This expansion will threaten the survival of another REC representing African countries in the Horn: the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), as Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan and Somalia are also members (or prospective members, such as in the case of Somalia), of the EAC. In fact, if Djibouti and Ethiopia will join the EAC, the only IGAD members that will be left out of the EAC will be Sudan and Eritrea. This will probably revive the debate on the possible merging of the two Communities. To be noted that participation of African States to RECs is not free, as annual contributions need to be paid for such membership. African countries should therefore make a choice and select cartefully the RECs to which participate.

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Latest UNCTAD Less Developed Countries report shows Ethiopia and DRC at the top of the list of beneficiaries of development assistance

UNCTAD has published the latest edition of its Less Developed Countries (LDCs) report, the document that identifies the low-income countries facing severe structural impediments to sustainable development and analyses challenges related to their economic growth. Being highly vulnerable to economic and environmental shocks and having low levels of human assets, these countries are given preferential access to international support measures (mainly in the form of grants from multilateral finance institutions and bilateral donors), in particular in the areas of development assistance and trade. However, despite this preferential treatment, the report shows that the gross disbursements of development assistance-related resources to this group of countries has reduced, collapsing to $66.9 billion in 2021, from $72.9 billion in 2020. Among the largest recipients, two African countries, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, remain at the top of the list, followed by Sudan, Uganda, Somalia, Tanzania and Mozambique.

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WCO Guidelines for the practical implementation of the AfCFTA rules of origin finally online

The World Customs Organization (WCO) has published today on its website a Guide for Customs Administrations and economic operators on the practical implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Rules of Origin. This guide is basically a handbook which explains how to apply the Rules of Origin contained in the Annex 2 (and its relevant appendices) of the Protocol on Trade in goods of the AfCFTA Agreement. Already in the end of December 2022 the WCO developed a quick guide specifically addressed to African traders. The purpose of such guide was to help them to better understand the AfCFTA Rules of Origin. The new publication takes up the key points already contained in that guide, but expanding them with more detailed explanations and additional examples on how to determine the origin of goods for the purposes of the AfCFTA preferential tariff treatment, for the use of both private operators and Customs.

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World Bank and IAPH launch a step-by-step guide to implementing a PCS

A World Bank report jointly published with the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) offers a step-by-step guide to implementing a Port Community System (PCS) and explains its advantages for developing countries. There is often a confusion between Port Community Systems and Single Windows. While Single Windows are defined as a facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents with a single entry point to fulfil all import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements, PCS are digital collaborative platforms that enable seamless exchange of information among a port’s many stakeholders, including customs agencies, port management, shipping and logistics companies, and freight forwarders. Keceli et al. more specifically define PCSs as a "computer network which links up the port with all the companies that use it, including hauliers, rail companies, shipping lines, feeder ports, shippers and customs officers". In reality, such platforms are not necessarily designed only for ports, as they can be established for automating and streamlining information flows also at airports, dry ports, land border posts or railway terminals, as explained in our article.

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Somalia integration in the East African Community threatened by internal conflicts and insecurity

Somalia accession to the East African Community has become recently a hot topic. A policy note issued by the Economic Research Policy Centre (ERPC), a Ugandan think-tank, questions the ability of Somalia to integrate economically and politically within such Regional Economic Community because of the persisting conflicts and insecurity in the country, that in the latest years have produced spillover insurgencies straining regional relations and resulting in a refugee crisis across regional borders.

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