Trading under AfCFTA to progress on agreed 87.7% tariff lines

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Council of Ministers Responsible for Trade has approved trading under the AfCFTA to progress on the basis of the already agreed-upon Rules of Origin (RoO) covering 87.7% of total tariff lines.

This resolution was taken by the Eighth (8th) Meeting of the AfCFTA Council of Ministers held January 28-29, in Accra, Ghana. RoO is the criteria for determining the country source of a product hence an AfCFTA Certificate of Origin is necessary to confirm if a particular product complies with the agreed RoO criteria.

The agreed-on tariff lines will be endorsed by the forthcoming 35th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, to be held February 5 – 6. Afterwards, the AfCFTA Secretariat will publish an AfCFTA Tariff Book, detailing RoO and customs procedures applying to specific products. Accordingly, the tariff book will enable traders under the free trade area to identify their specific products, know what RoO applies to each product as well as associated tariffs.

The Council of Ministers requested that necessary steps be undertaken to gazette the schedules of tariff concessions, in accordance with the applicable national legislations of AfCFTA State Parties. It noted that negotiations on trade in services had reached an advanced stage of conclusion with 46 AU member states having submitted their schedules of specific commitments and accordingly, resolved that the negotiations be concluded by June 30, 2022.

The Council applauded the republics of Burundi, Seychelles as well as the United Republic of Tanzania for having recently deposited their instruments of ratification and thus increased the number of AfCFTA State Parties to forty (40). The Council also applauded the Republic of Gabon for successfully hosting the AfCFTA Forum on Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

Additionally, the Council applauded the operationalization of the Pan-African Payments and Settlements System (PAPSS) held January 13 and acknowledged the deployment of a facility worth $1billion by the Africa Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) for the development of the automotive value chain to aid Africa’s industrialization. Similarly, the $1 billion-worth AfCFTA Adjustment Fund, which seeks to help countries adjust to tariff revenue losses resulting from AfCFTA’s implementation, will be operationalized by Afreximbank in February