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An update on the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement by African countries as of July 2019

By Talkmore Chidede
01 Aug 2019
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An update on the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement by African countries as of July 2019

This blog provides an update of the ratification and implementation status of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) by African countries as of July 2019.[1] The TFA entered into force on 22nd February 2017, after ratified by two thirds of the WTO member states.

Ratification status

As of July 2019, 145 of 164 WTO member states have ratified the TFA. In the same period, 35 of 44 African WTO member states have ratified the TFA. Egypt was the most recent African country to ratify on 24 June 2019.

Table 1: African countries that have ratified and accepted the TFA

Country
 Date of acceptance
Angola
09 April 2019
Benin
28 March 2018
Botswana
18 June 2015
Burkina Faso
21 September 2018
Cameroon
30 November 2018
Central African Republic
11 January 2018
Chad
22 February 2017
Congo
05 October 2017
Côte d'Ivoire
08 December 2015
Djibouti
05 March 2018
Egypt
24 June 2019
eSwatini
21 November 2016
Gabon
05 December 2016
Gambia
11 July 2017
Ghana
04 January 2017
Kenya
10 December 2015
Lesotho
04 January 2016
Madagascar
20 June 2016
Malawi
12 July 2017
Mali
20 January 2016
Mauritius
05 March 2015
Morocco
14 May 2019
Mozambique
06 January 2017
Namibia
09 February 2018
Niger
06 August 2015
Nigeria
16 January 2017
Rwanda
22 February 2017
Senegal
24 August 2016
Seychelles
11 January 2016
Sierra Leone
05 May 2017
South Africa
30 November 2017
Togo
01 October 2015
Uganda
27 June 2018
Zambia
16 December 2015
Zimbabwe
17 October 2018
Source: WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (June 2019)
 

Overview of the TFA

The TFA aims to facilitate and speed up the movement, release and clearance of goods at the borders, including goods in transit. The TFA seeks to promote effective cooperation among customs and other relevant authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. The TFA contains provisions (Arts. 1 to 12) covering, inter alia, publication and availability of information; disciplines on fees and charges imposed on or in connection with importation and exportation; other measures to enhance impartiality, non-discrimination and transparency, release and clearance of goods; border agency cooperation; movement of goods under customs control intended for import; formalities connected with importation and exportation and transit; freedom of transit; and customs cooperation.

The TFA provides for special and differential treatment allowing developing and least-developed countries (LDCs) to self-select commitments and determine timeframes for implementing TFA provisions. LDCs are only ‘required to undertake commitments to the extent consistent with their individual development, financial and trade needs or their administrative and institutional capabilities’ (Art. 13.3). Technical and financial assistance is also provided to assist developing countries and LDCs in implementing the TFA provisions depending on their nature and scope. 18 African countries have joined the WTO as developing countries, and 26 as LDCs; other 9 African countries are in the process of joining the WTO.

Table 2: WTO membership and accession status of African countries

LDCs
Developing countries
Accession in progress
Angola
Botswana
Algeria
Benin
Cabo Verde
Comoros
Burkina Faso
Cameroon
Ethiopia
Burundi
Congo
Equatorial Guinea
Central African Republic
Côte d’Ivoire
Libya
Chad
Egypt
Sao Tomé and Principe
Democratic Republic of Congo
eSwatini
Somalia
Djibouti
Gabon
South Sudan
Gambia
Ghana
Sudan
Guinea
Kenya
 
Guinea Bissau
Mauritius
 
Lesotho
Morocco
 
Liberia
Namibia
 
Madagascar
Nigeria
 
Malawi
Seychelles
 
Mali
South Africa
 
Mauritania
Tunisia
 
Mozambique
Zimbabwe
 
Niger
 
 
Rwanda
 
 
Senegal
 
 
Sierra Leone
 
 
Tanzania
 
 
Togo
 
 
Uganda
 
 
Zambia
   
Source: WTO website (June 2019)
 

Designation and notification of TFA provisions by African countries

Countries are required to categorise the substantive provisions of the TFA (Arts. 1 to 12) into three (Category A, B and C) and notify other WTO members of these categorisations. The commitments designated by member states under the three categories will be made an integral part of the TFA.

  • Category A contains provisions that a developing country member will implement upon entry into force of the TFA, and that an LDC member, within one year after entry into force.

  • Category B contains provisions that the developing country or LDC members will implement after a transitional period following entry into force of the Agreement.

  • Category C contains provisions that the developing country or LDC member will implement on a date after a transitional period following the entry into force of the TFA and requiring the acquisition of assistance and support for capacity building.

Table 3 shows the designation and notification of TFA provisions by African countries. The table shows that 22 African countries have notified all their categories A, B and C commitments. South Africa has notified Category A and B commitments. 14 African countries have notified their Category A commitments only. Djibouti and Benin have ratified the TFA but are yet to notify their Category A, B and C commitments.

Some African countries (i.e. Mauritania, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tanzania and Tunisia) that are yet to ratify the TFA have already submitted their category notifications. Mauritania has notified all its category commitments, while Burundi, DRC, Tanzania and Tunisia have only notified they Category A commitments. African countries have designated provisions related to the systems they already in place as Category A commitments.

Table 3: Category A, B and C notifications by African countries

Country
Category A
Category B
Category C
Angola
^
^
^
Lesotho
^
^
^
Madagascar
^
^
^
Malawi
^
^
^
Mali
^
^
^
Mauritania
^
^
^
Mauritius
^
^
^
Morocco
^
^
^
Mozambique
^
^
^
Botswana
^
^
^
Central African Republic
^
^
^
Chad
^
^
^
Gambia
^
^
^
eSwatini
^
^
^
Niger
^
^
^
Nigeria
^
^
^
Rwanda
^
^
^
Senegal
^
^
^
Seychelles
^
^
^
Sierra Leone
^
^
^
Togo
^
^
^
Zambia
^
^
^
South Africa
^
^
 
Burkina Faso
^
 
 
Burundi
^
 
 
Cameroon
^
 
 
Congo
^
 
 
Côte d'Ivoire
^
 
 
Democratic Republic of Congo
^
 
 
Egypt
^
 
 
Namibia
^
 
 
Gabon
^
 
 
Tanzania
^
 
 
Ghana
^
 
 
Kenya
^
 
 
Tunisia
^
 
 
Uganda
^
 
 
Benin
 
 
 
Djibouti
 
 
 
Source: WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (June 2019)
 

Requirements for Category B and C notifications

For Category B and C, countries are required to notify the provisions, the indicative and definitive dates of implementation as well as the assistance and support for capacity building required in order to implement such provisions. Table 4 below shows African countries that have notified their indicative and definitive dates for implementing Category B and C commitments and have requested technical assistance for implementing such commitments.

Table 4: African countries’ Categories B and C indicative and definitive dates and request for technical assistance

Country
Category B
Category C
Request for
technical
assistance
Indicative
dates
Definitive
Dates
Indicative
dates
Definitive
dates
Botswana
^
^
^
^
^
Egypt
^
^
^
^
^
Morocco
^
^
^
^
^
Mozambique
^
^
^
^
^
eSwatini
^
^
^
X
^
Seychelles
^
^
^
X
^
Mauritius
^
^
^
X
^
Mauritania
^
X
^
^
^
Gambia
^
X
^
X
X
Lesotho
^
X
^
X
X
Madagascar
^
X
^
X
Some
Nigeria
^
X
^
X
^
Togo
^
X
^
X
^
Senegal
^
X
^
X
^
Sierra Leone
^
X
^
X
X
Rwanda
^
X
X
X
X
South Africa
^
^
X
X
X
Malawi
^
X
Some
X
^
Source: WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (June 2019)
 

Table 4 reveals that only 18 African countries have thus far notified their indicative or definitive dates for the implementation of Category B and C provisions. Botswana, Egypt and Mozambique have notified all indicative and definitive dates for implementation of Category B and C provisions. eSwatini, Mauritius and Seychelles have notified all the dates but not the definitive dates of implementation of Category C provisions. Mauritania have notified all dates except the definitive dates of implementation of Category B commitments. Gambia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Nigeria, Togo, Senegal and Sierra Leone have only notified the indicative dates of Category B and C. South Africa has only notified both indicative and definitive dates for Category B. Malawi has notified the indicative dates for Category B and some of the indicative dates for Category C. Rwanda has only notified indicative dates for Category B.

Botswana, Egypt, Morocco, Mozambique, eSwatini, Seychelles, Mauritius, Mauritania, Nigeria, Togo, Senegal and Malawi have requested technical assistance in order to implement their Category C provisions. Madagascar has requested technical assistance for the implementation of some of the Category C provisions. The type of technical assistance that has been requested by most African countries includes human resource and training, legislation and regulatory framework, information, communication and technology, institutional procedures, infrastructure and equipment, diagnostic and needs assessment, and awareness-raising.


[1] See an earlier tralac Trade Brief by the same author, titled An Update on the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and African countries 

About the Author(s)

Talkmore Chidede

Talkmore Chidede

Talkmore Chidede holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree (Cum Laude) by research in international investment law and a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from the Nelson R. Mandela School of Law, University of Fort Hare. He is a doctoral candidate in investment law at the University of the Western Cape. His research interests include investment law, international trade law, regional economic integration and international commercial arbitration.

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