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Central African States Urged To Harmonise Tariff Systems 

By Abel Akara Ticha*

Trade and customs experts from ten countries covering the CEMAC and ECCAS regions have called on the two Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in Central Africa to quickly set up a roadmap for the establishment and functioning of a joint CEMAC-ECCAS committee on nomenclature, tariffs and related community trade legislation.

The over 40 professionals made this and several other recommendations to lay the foundations of the creation of a unique customs union in Central Africa, during an ad hoc expert group meeting on customs nomenclature, tariffs and legislation held in Douala, Cameroon, from 1 to 3  June 2011.

Tariffs and Trade

At the end of the meeting, a draft of the first two categories of a Common External Tariff (CET) for the ten countries belonging to CEMAC and ECCAS was made: Category I: basic commodities; industrial, agricultural and fisheries equipment; agricultural and fisheries inputs.

Category II: Raw materials and other equipment. Participants at the meeting also called on the CEMAC Commission and the ECCAS Secretariat to urgently create comprehensive databases on national and community customs and taxation texts to be made readily available to local administrations and business unions of the sub-region, in order to speed up the move towards a single customs union in Central Africa.

They also called for the convening of a meeting of all directors general of customs of CEMAC and ECCAS member states to give a new impetus to applying community texts on customs and trade.

Responding To Regional Integration Needs

Three main personalities addressed the meeting: The representative of Cameroon’s Minister of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Eric Dominique Ondoua, thanked the Central African Sub-regional office of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA/SRO-CA) for its constant support to the Steering Committee for the Harmonisation of Integration Programmes and Instruments in Central Africa, which Cameroon is chairing.

The Officer in Charge of the ECA/SRO-CA Aboubacray Demba Lom underscored the importance of a Common External Tariff as a boost to regional integration and trade between members of the community and the rest of the world. Mr Guillaume Vessah, the Representative of the Secretary General of ECCAS insisted on the need for Central Africa to speed up its

regional integration in accordance with the African Union’s Minimum Integration Programme as it moves towards concluding an Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU The ad hoc expert group meeting was held as part of the ECA/SRO-CA’s programme of activities for 2010-2011 in its mission to facilitate the process of regional integration and the implementation of development policies in Central Africa.

*Communications Officer, UN Economic Commission for Africa, Sub-Regional Office for Central Africa

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