December 7, 2022

SADC conducts electronic Certificate of Origin workshop

A five-day training workshop for customs officers and customs brokers from four Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States, namely Eswatini, Malawi, Namibia and Zambia was conducted in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 28th November to 2nd December 2022.

The training was organised by the SADC Secretariat, Finance, Investment and Customs (FIC) Directorate with support by the European Union-SADC Trade Facilitation Programme under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF 11).

The overall training objective was to equip border managers and key customs brokers from clearing firms that have a presence at the borders with the right skills and knowledge in handling clearance of goods which have been issued with a SADC Electronic Certificate of Origin (e-CoO).

Other training sessions for Customs officers and brokers will be conducted next year, and trainees are expected to cascade the acquired knowledge to other stakeholders in their respective Member States.

The e-CoO was officially launched in Blantyre, Malawi, in September 2022 as a modern trade facilitation instrument which contributes to ease of doing business and promotes integrity and environmental protection, after the successful completion of the development and test of the e-CoO module of Eswatini, Malawi and Zambia.

Following the official launch of the SADC e-CoO to ensure smooth movement of cargo and better border cooperation, a series of training workshops were planned to capacitate customs brokers, freight forwarders, exporters, and customs managers with a view to implement the e-CoO concept effectively in handling and facilitating clearance of cargo that is accompanied with the SADC e-CoO.

Since the beginning of the implementation of the SADC Free Trade Area in 2008, the Certificate of Origin for qualified goods for Duty-Free Quota Free Market access was processed manually. Over the years, it was noted this was creating some delays in the clearance of goods. A Certificate of Origin is a supporting document issued by Competent Authority, in most cases by Customs Administration/Revenue Authorities in exporting countries as documentary evidence for the qualifying goods to be presented in importing countries for clearance.

It is against this background that the Committee of Minister of Trade (CMT) in 2019, during their meeting held in Windhoek, Namibia, approved the e-CoO Framework to enable Member States to develop their national e-CoO module in the Customs system, which will allow integration with other Member States’ systems.