SADC adopts electronic certificate of origin framework

The Chronicle

business journalist

THE Southern African Development Community (Sadc) says it has started piloting the “Electronic Certificate of Origin” program aimed at facilitating improved regional trade.

Electronic Certificate of Origin (Photo credit: Trade Finance Global)

Preparations for the official launch of the initiative next month are underway and the bloc expects all member states to have implemented the program by 2024.

In line with the global e-commerce crusade, the bloc said in a latest update that the intervention would result in the smooth flow of goods across the region to end consumers.

“Regional intra-Sadc trade is hampered by delays and other costs involved in manually processing the certificate of origin from start to finish, contributing to the total negative effect on trade,” Sadc said.

Trade Facilitation Program (TFP)

“As one of the main areas of intervention of the SADC Trade Facilitation Program (TFP), the electronic certificate of origin will increase the seamless flow of intra-regional trade by removing barriers caused by the manual process. .

“The framework is currently being tested in Eswatini, Malawi and Zambia, while work is underway to have the framework tested in Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Republic United Kingdom of Tanzania and Zimbabwe”.

A certificate of origin or declaration of origin refers to a document widely used in international trade transactions, which certifies that the product listed therein has met certain criteria to be considered as originating in a particular country.

The SADC “Electronic Certificate of Origin Framework” was first endorsed by the Committee of Trade Ministers in 2019 and aims to promote the application of certificates of origin electronically, thereby facilitating cross-border trade In the region.

Over the years, SADC has carried out the manual processing of certificates of origin by issuing authorities in the country of origin of the goods, in accordance with the rules contained in the SADC Trade Protocol.

However, the procedure is cumbersome because it requires traders to physically go to the offices of the authority responsible for issuing the certificate of origin in order to submit the corresponding request and obtain a response to the issue of the certificate.

Once the issuing authority has verified that the goods declared by the exporter comply with SADC rules, the certificate of origin is then transmitted to the importing country.

“The implementation of the electronic certificate of origin will therefore simplify this process as it will allow the trader to apply online, track the application and get the response on the submission through the same platform,” Sadc said.

“The customs authority of the importing country will verify the authenticity of the electronic certificate of origin online, without the need to receive the original paper certificate.”

This reduces the time it takes to process the application and insurance as it will allow the trader to apply online, track the application and get the response on the submission through the same platform.

A reference number will be issued for the purposes of the customs declaration process in the country of export, the bloc said.

He said the digital system is equipped with security features such as online authenticity verification, optical watermark technology to distinguish between original and copies of certificates of origin issued.

SADC Free Trade Area (FTA)

“The electronic certificate of origin is envisaged within the framework of the SADC Free Trade Area (FTA) whose objectives are to further liberalize intra-regional trade in goods and services; ensuring efficient production; contribute to the improvement of the climate for national, cross-border and foreign investments,” said the Sadc.

According to the statement, the implementation of the electronic certificate of origin is sponsored by the European Union (EU) to the tune of 15 million euros and its overall objective is to strengthen inclusive economic development in the Sadc region by deepening regional economic integration and increasing intra-regional trade.

Economic regional integration

The initiative is also supported by GIZ-Cooperation for Strengthening SADC Regional Economic Integration Program (CESARE).

It is expected to further improve the quality of intra-regional trade data resulting in statistical analysis that can be used to make key management decisions and improve competition among regional producers/exporters.

SADC said the move to electronic will further significantly reduce fraud, provide traders with fair competition in the market and contribute to the reduction of non-tariff barriers to trade while enhancing the participation of SADC States in the chain. of regional value.

The ultimate desire is to support the successful implementation of the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap (2015-2063) in consolidating the SADC FTA.

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