On 25th and 26th July 2022, the AfCFTA Council of Ministers met in Accra, Ghana for the 9th Meeting of the AfCFTA Council of Ministers responsible for trade. During this meeting, the AfCFTA Secretariat reported major strides towards making trade under the AfCFTA fully operational.
The key highlights of the meeting included:
- The AfCFTA Rules of Origin Manualwas drafted in accordance with Article 42 of Annex 2 of the Protocol on Trade in Goods. The Manual details the application of the rules used in determining the origin status of goods, procedures of administering the rules and the institutional framework for the implementation of the AfCFTA Rules of Origin. According to Annex 2 on Rules of Origin, tariff preferences will be accorded to goods that will meet origin rules and are traded between the AfCFTA State Parties. Upon adoption by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, the Manual shall form an integral part of Annex 2 and will therefore have to be used in conjunction with the AfCFTA legal instruments. This Manual is expected to be a useful tool for training purposes.
- The AfCFTA e-Tariff Bookwas introduced as part of the AfCFTA Secretariat's digitalisation and trade facilitation efforts. The e-Tariff Book will ensure that tariff concession schedules are easily accessible to Trade and Customs Authorities, to allow them to make use of the benefits under the AfCFTA agreement and to enhance knowledge and capacities in the use of tariffs, the World Customs Organization 6 digits Harmonized System (HS), commodity classification and organisation of tariff-related work within Customs administrations and other relevant stakeholders. The e-Tariff Book is available online at au-afcfta.org
- The AfCFTA Initiative on Guided Tradeaims to
gather countries among the 29 that have already submitted their
tariff schedules to commence trading with the direction of the
Secretariat. The main aim of the initiative will be:
- Test the environmental, legal and trade policy basis for trade under the AfCFTA;
- Demonstrate that the AfCFTA is functioning;
- Send an important political message to the countries that are yet to submit their provisional schedules of tariff concessions in accordance with the agreed modalities; and give hope to the continent that trading under the AfCFTA is achievable.
Commencement of Trade under the Pilot Phase
During the meeting, the AfCFTA Council of Ministers also announced that seven countries were chosen to pilot trading in the Africa continental free trade area. These countries include Kenya, Tanzania, Tunisia, Cameroon, Egypt, Mauritius, and Ghana. The pilot phase means that Kenya will now be able to access markets in West and Central Africa on preferential rates despite being different economic blocs with countries such as Ghana and Tunisia. Kenya will trade selected products that cut across manufacturing and construction materials, agro-processing and automobiles. These goods will include milk, horticulture products, cheeses and textiles.
Kenya, which is part of the cohort to trade under the pilot phase, launched its National African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Implementation Strategy 2022-2027 on 4th August 2022. The Strategy is timely as it aims to boost opportunities for industrial diversification, investment, job creation and deepen relations with other countries in the African Continent in light of Kenya's participation in the pilot phase. During the launch, Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Trade announced the establishment of an Ad hoc Committee tasked with coordinating the AfCFTA Initiative on Guided Trade by identifying the export products and facilitating product market access.
Martin Gitau- Research Associate
Kelly Nyaga- Trainee Lawyer
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