Central Africa’s free trade instruments gaining traction in DR Congo
A total of 49 leaders from the public and private sectors of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have completed a two-day training to appropriate rules of origin procedures for accrediting national industrial products into the ECCAS-CEMAC Harmonized Preferential Tariff regime.
Facilitated by the Subregional Office for Central Africa of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the training took place in Kinshasa as part of a series that has already benefitted local investors and administrative officials in Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, Gabon and Chad.
The series of training ultimately seeks to fully activate free trade within the ECCAS and help to operationalize the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), whose legal instruments were signed on 21 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda.
The trainees are expected to use the insights from the workshop to make better use of the current preferential tariff regime in place across ECCAS countries, given that current ECCAS arrangements have removed tariffs from the intraregional export-import of items that have been locally produced and transformed, yet were little known or applied on the field.
According to the Permanent Secretary in the DRC’s Ministry of External Trade Mr Lothe Ndjombole A Ponde François, who opened the Kinshasa session, the workshop was a big opportunity for his compatriots to fully understand the workings of the ECCAS Preferential Tariff and put it to good use.
Tariff and non-tariff barriers as well as limited economic diversification and product complementarity among Central African states have contributed to the lower performance of the subregion in terms of intra-Africa trade, which stands at about 3% against the African average of 17%.
The Kinshasa training brings the number of persons trained to take advantage of the ECCAS-CEMAC Harmonized Preferential Tariff regime to boost intraregional trade in Central Africa to 261 across five countries of the subregion. Actors in the rest of the countries of the subregion will also be reached.
Funding for the activity was made possible thanks to a contribution agreement signed by the European Union (EU) and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) for the further harmonization of ECCAS and CEMAC trade policy instruments.