21 May 2014

East Africa: EABC Sensitises Regional Business Operators About Rules of Origin Policy

A five-day training workshop aimed at creating awareness on the rules of origin policy to enable importers and exporters benefit from opportunities provided by the preferential trade regime within the East Africa Community (EAC) is taking place at the Kivu Serena Hotel in Gisenyi, Rubavu District.

Adrian Njau, a trade economist with East African Business Council (EABC), said the objective of the training is to enhance the understanding of rules of origin policy among EAC businesspeople; its role in international trade and also to build the capacity of the private sector to be able to benefit from trade opportunities being created by EAC and other trade regimes.

Rules of origin are used to determine the country of origin of a product for purposes of international trade. There are two common types of rules of origin depending on application, the preferential and non-preferential rules of origin; however, the exact rules vary from country to country.

The training attracted 22 participants from different exporting companies, manufacturers and institutions responsible for export and import trade. It also aims at enhancing knowledge on the revised EAC rules of origin.

Njau is optimistic that the training will produce a pool of experts on the rules of origin and also facilitate in the implementation of other instruments such as the anti-dumping policy.

The training, which started on Monday and ends on Friday, was organised by the Private Sector Federation, the East African Business Council and the TradeMark East Africa.

Gilbert Ndagijimana, a trainee from SOIMEX, said the training will help him gain more understanding on how to benefit from the policy since Rwanda is a member of EAC and Comesa.

Timothy Chisembwere, a trainer, noted that some of rules of origin are rigid, making it hard for businesses to exploit preferential market access.

"The private sector should be involved in the design and development of these policies to have simple and flexible rules of origin arrangements so the business community can exploit opportunities provided by the regional preferential regimes, multilateral, bilateral and tripartite preferential treatments," he pointed out.

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