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Senegal: African experts discuss free trade zone

Several experts from members States of the African Union (AU) on Monday began the 6th workshop of the African Union Technical working group (GTT) in Dakar, Senegal, to look into the establishment of the rules of origin for the continental free trade zone (ZCLE) towards the creation of an African common market by 2017.

The three-day workshop give the opportunity to organisers and participants to share ideas about the trade agreements issues, in a bid to propose a framework for the rules of origin to facilitate the establishment of the continental free trade zone between African countries.

It is also the opportunity for organisers to establish a transparent and realistic framework on the rules of origin in Africa’s zone for the harmonization of the procedures already adopted by the different regional economic communities (REC).

The workshop was jointly presided over by the Senegalese Customs minister, Mr Elimane Saliou Gningue and the chief of delegation at the Department of Trade and Industry in the African Union Commission, François Jean-Noël.

Mr Gningue said that the rules of origin would determine the country of origin for goods in the domain of international trade.

Mr Jean-Noël said that the rules of origin were vital for a successful establishment of the continental free trade zone and were a powerful levy in promoting development, economic growth and the fight for the eradication of poverty in Africa.

“Africa is more and more recognized as being the next growth pole. It’s up to our governments to seize the opportunity of that positive situation to get its rightful place in international trade,” he added.

GTT is a sub-organ of the African Union sub-committee of Customs Directors, which includes customs experts from regional economic communities and several trade and customs administrations from member states, with the assistance of expertise from organizations such as the International Customs Organizations (ICO) and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

The Dakar workshop follows the decision of African heads of State and governments at the 18th ordinary session of their conference held in January 2012 in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to establish a continental free trade zone as means to promote intra-African trade by the year 2017.

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