Africa can improve immensely upon its export returns, if it gets industrialised enough to add value to its raw products.

“In my view, the products we get from cocoa for example, are still primary and not diversified enough.”

Mr. Philip Cobbina, managing partner, Circadian Consulting Ltd, said this when he launched the Economic Development in Africa Report 2019, on Wednesday in Accra.

The report basically argues that rules of origin are a corner stone of the effective implementation of preferential trade liberalisation among members of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), without which gains cannot accrue towards Africa.

It says the rules of origin, consider different levels of productive capacities and competitiveness between countries, to help foster regional production.

He said industrialisation was one means of improving upon the continent’s raw materials, and attaining more value for them.

Mr Cobbina who is also a management consultant, added, that it was important that African countries made it a point to fit in with the rules of origin, which were the criteria needed to determine the national source of a product.

“Getting the rules of origin right, helps boost intra-African trade, and consequently impact positively on African economies,” he said.

Mr Cobbina observed that African countries needed to do their bit to achieve the gains of the AfCFTA, because those gains could only be earned and were not automatically attained.

Themed, Made in Africa-Rules of Origin for Enhanced Inter-African Trade, the report recommends support for small and medium enterprises and the business community, the building of capacities of customs officials and the adoption of new technologies.

The report also noted that establishing regular platforms for public-private dialogues can help in identifying any challenges to implementation of rules of origin within the AfCFTA to keep them business friendly and supportive of trade for the private sector.

Rules of origin are a “passport” enabling goods to circulate duty-free within a free trade area (FTA) as long as these goods qualify as originating within the FTA.

The rules define the criteria that must be met for a product to be considered as having its origin in an exporting country within the FTA, and also qualify for preferential treatment, which is zero import tariffs inside the FTA.

This means they determine the economic origin of goods within an FTA.

A release from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), says a committee of rules of origin will be set up under the AfCFTA agreement to annually review the implementation of the rules, its transparency provisions and submit reports and recommendations to a committee of senior trade officials.

The launch was done by the UN Information Centre in Ghana, on behalf of UNCTAD.

Source: GNA