Côte d’Ivoire is the largest economy and an engine of growth among the countries of the Western African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) and a driving force behind the regional integration process under the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). By signing the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the agreement of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Côte d’Ivoire has set itself an ambitious trade facilitation reform agenda. The World Bank estimates that reforms in trade facilitation will be responsible for up to 95% of the AfCFTA’s positive impact.
Lack of transparency and predictability with regards to customs procedures is one of the main trade facilitation challenges faced in Côte d’Ivoire. During consultations, private sector representatives referred to frequent disputes with customs on tariff classification and origin for certain groups of products. Côte d’Ivoire customs does not currently offer the possibility for Advance Rulings on tariff and origin (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD). According to the OECD, Advance Rulings can reduce trade costs significantly by improving transparency, predictability and consistency of customs rulings.
WHAT WE DO
The project focuses on making cross-border trade in Côte d’Ivoire more predictable and transparent through the implementation of Advance Rulings for tariff classification and rules of origin. An Advance Ruling is a written decision by customs that is binding on the customs administration and the applicant concerning the tariff classification, origin or value of a good. It is issued by customs to the applicant prior to import or export. The ruling applies to the entire customs territory and for a specified period.
Additionally, the implementation of Advance Rulings enhances the partnership between agencies operating at the borders, and also between the public and private sector.
The project will intervene along the following workstreams:
- Establishing the legal, processual and organizational framework withing customs as well as digitizing the procedure.
- Supporting the customs administration to establish a team of experts on tariff classification and rules of origin. The trainings at advanced and expert level will be conducted in cooperation with the World Customs Organization.
- Sensitizing customs officials in the main customs offices on the nature of Advance Rulings, as well as training private sector operators in applying Advance Rulings.
A project steering committee has been established under the National Trade Facilitation Committee. The Ivorian Customs Administration is the lead implementer and project partner. The GIZ through the German Alliance for Trade Facilitation provides technical support by working closely with the project team in customs and private sector partners.
- Cross-border trade will be more predictable and transparent through the introduction of Advance Rulings.
- Technical training of customs officials on tariff classification and rules of origin will lead to fewer disputes with the private sector over those issues.
- Further awareness raising on communication and change management ensures the operation, uptake, and sustainability of the new mechanism.
Photo credits: GIZ / Michael Tsegaye