AFCFTA, WCO sign MoU to enhance trade in Africa  

Tuesday February 22 2022
African Continental Free Trade Area

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretary-General H.E Wamkele Keabetswe Mene. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG


The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat and the World Customs Organisation (WCO) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at operationalising the tariff schedules and ensuring additional free and efficient movement of goods in Africa.

The MoU, which was signed in Brussels, Belgium, on February 15, 2022 by the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene and the Secretary-General of the WCO, Kunio Mikuriya, is expected to strengthen the organisational capacity, transparency and effectiveness of African Customs administrations sustainably, through cooperation between both organisations.

The shared goal of both organisations remains to enhance continental trade by eradicating trade barriers through connecting Customs systems, populating the AfCFTA Tariff Book and providing capacity building for Customs officials and administration.

Mene said that “The MoU will improve the partnership between the WCO to and the AfCFTA in ensuring that Customs Administrations are fully equipped to implement the AfCFTA Agreement.”

He further said that good progress has been made since the establishment of the AfCFTA Secretariat, saying that one major milestone is the ratification of Rules of Origin for 87.7 per cent of tariff headings agreed upon by 41 of its 54 Member States.

Mene noted that the expectations were high and that communities were eager to start trading under the new Agreement. He acknowledged the WCO’s expertise and role in delivering capacity building in highly-technical areas which were key for implementing the Agreement.


On his part, Dr. Mikuriya highlighted the areas where the WCO could contribute, including customs technical matters such as the Harmonised System, Valuation and Origin, as well as automation, risk management and trade facilitation which will yield economic benefits to the African continent.

He reaffirmed WCO’s commitment to contribute to the regional integration efforts in Africa through customs modernisation.

AfCFTA is the world’s largest free trade area since the formulation of the World Trade Organisation. It aims to bring together all 55 member states of the African Union, covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people, including a growing middle class and a combined gross domestic product of $2.6 trillion. It works towards several objectives, most importantly to create a single market for goods and services, having the potential to boost intra-African trade by 52.3 per cent.

WCO is the only intergovernmental organisation focused uniquely on customs matters. With 184 Members across the globe collectively processing 98 per cent of world trade, the WCO is recognised as the voice of the customs community. It is noted for its expertise in developing global standards, simplifying and harmonising customs procedures, trade security, trade facilitation, customs enforcement and compliance, the Harmonised System goods nomenclature, valuation, origin, and customs capacity building.