Regional experts have validated the draft supplementary Act fixing community rules of origin and procedures applicable to goods originating in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
When adopted, the validation, would among others repeal and replace Protocol A/P.1/01/03 dated 31 January 2003 which had defined the notion of products originating in ECOWAS Member States.
The review and validation are geared towards strengthening the ECOWAS Free Trade Area (FTA) and the idea of having flexible rules of origin in the region.
Alongside the revision of the community rules and procedures, the ECOWAS Commission hopes to update the recognition of origin through the exertions of the national experts in line with the region’s current economic situation.
This is in addition to the simplification of the origin recognition procedure by addressing all the issues that either appear to slow down the procedures or have become obstacles including the facilitation of the Free Movement of Goods with new provisions on the certification of origin.
During the meeting, presentations were made and appraisals given by the experts who also examined the draft regulation on procedures for recognition and the certification of goods of Community origin in the ECOWAS region, with a careful consideration given to the texts article by article.
Broadly, through the various articles, the national experts examined how sufficiently processed or transformed were the products under consideration, the notion of originating industrial products, identification of originating industrial products, goods manufactured in free zones or under suspense or end-use procedures, principle of territoriality, Sets, the proof of Community Origin, Validity of the Proof of Origin, Control of the Proof of the Community Origin, repeal, Dispute resolution.
A major work done by the national experts also included the examination of the draft regulation on procedures for recognition and certification of goods of Community origin in the ECOWAS region. The draft was presented by the ECOWAS Commission.
The draft document seeks (when adopted) to abrogate and replace the Regulation C/REG.3/4/02 of 23rd April 2002 establishing procedure for the approval of originating products to benefit from the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme as well as Regulation C/REG.4/4/02 of 23rd April 2002 adopting a certificate of origin of originating products of the Community.
Following the review of articles, participants made other proposals for the improvement of the draft regulation which are to be sent to Member States for further inputs.
Wrapping up the Three-Day meeting, the chair of session and Director of ECOWAS National Unit of the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mr. Musa Nuhu thanked the delegates for the seriousness with which they participated in the work.
The head, Free Movement Division of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) Mr. Aboubakar Sidiki Cisse praised the participants for the quality of the deliberation and the professionalism
On his part, the ECOWAS Commission’s Director of Customs Mr. Salifou Tiemtoré, who represented the Commissioner, Trade, Customs and Free Movement, congratulated participants for the meeting’s achievements. He also thanked WAEMU Commission for its participation.
The work of the national experts on the Supplementary Act is expected to be presented to the meeting of Directors-General for onward consideration by the Ministers of Finance of the region.
All 15 Member states, the ECOWAS Commission, the WAEMU Commission and the German Development Agency (GIZ) were also represented at the meeting.