Addis Ababa — The West Africa office of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Togolese government last week organized a workshop in Dapaong to enhance the capacity of its customs officials and licensed agents in readiness for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
It was the second training session following the one held last month for officials in the southern coastal region of the country in the capital city, Lome. The second meeting in Dapaong was for officials in the northern Savannah region.
The training was to equip the officials with the knowledge to grant preferential treatment to a commodity within the framework of the AfCFTA, receive general information on the manual of rules of origin, and master the use of the certificate of origin in the context of the AfCFTA.
Participants were also able to detect fraud related to the issuance of false certificates of origin of the AfCFTA, apply the provisions of Annex 2 on the rules of origin of the AfCFTA, and apply the appropriate rates of the agreement.
The Togolese government requested and obtained technical and financial assistance from the ECA for the development and validation of the national strategy which contains a three-year action matrix covering the period from 2020 to 2022.
The AfCFTA entered into force on 30 May 2019 after the treaty was ratified by 22 countries – the minimum number required by the treaty. Trading was earlier scheduled to start on 1 July this year but was postponed for six months owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The AfCFTA aims to create the world’s largest free trade area with the potential that brings together more than 1.2 billion people with a GDP of over $2.5 trillion and usher in a new era of development. It has the potential to generate a range of benefits through economy of scale, trade creation, structural transformation, productive employment, and poverty reduction.
Through its African Trade Policy Centre, together with the sub regional offices of the ECA, it has been working with the AUC and member states to deepen Africa’s trade integration and effectively implement the agreement through policy advocacy and national strategy development.
The ECA also works closely with the International Trade Centre (ITC), the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and a selection of independent trade experts with the financial support of the European Union (EU) to support the implementation of the AfCFTA across the continent.