April 11, 2016—A final version of the Southern African Development Community’s Comprehensive Trade Facilitation Program (CTFP) won approval last month by trade ministers of the community’s 15 member states.
The program offers a blueprint for SADC’s member states to reduce regional trade barriers and meet their obligations under the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) as well as the World Custom Organization’s revised Kyoto Convention.
Nathan Associates supported drafting of the CTFP, through the Southern Africa Trade Hub project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Nathan’s project team coordinated with stakeholders on several drafts. This coordination included incorporating feedback from the SADC’s Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment Directorate.
The program “has identified trade facilitation activities that are essential in facilitating ease in movement of goods, while reducing the cost of doing business in the region,” SADC’s executive secretary, Dr. Stergomena L. Tax, said in opening remarks to 16th Meeting of the Ministerial Task Force on Regional Economic Integration, held March 13 in Gaborone, Botswana. The trade ministers enthusiastically endorsed the program.
The CTFP covers 24 activities clustered around four areas: transparency, predictability, simplification, and cooperation. Among those activities are creation of National Single Windows and Trade Information Portals.
The TFA, updated in December 2013, had called for WTO member countries to implement trade facilitation measures, including in the areas of publishing trade information, enhancing border agency cooperation, and establishing single windows for trade.
The CTFP addresses accession to and implementation of the WCO Revised Kyoto Convention, and has provisions for data exchange and connectivity between customs administrations, implementation of e-certificates of origin, and improvements to infrastructure at selected major border posts.