Nairobi, Monday, August 13, 2018: Heads of Customs from COMESA Member States began a two-day meeting in Kenya to deliberate on the prepared reports on customs and trade facilitation matters.

On the agenda of the Customs experts is discuss Draft Regulations on the electronic certificate of origin; Draft COMESA Regional Authorised Economic Operator Programme implementation Guideline as well as receiving updates on the COMESA Digital Free Trade Area implementation and other customs related matters.

The outcome of the deliberations will provide impetus towards promoting deeper regional integration and enhanced economic well-being of its citizens.

The COMESA Heads of Customs Sub-committee provides institutional guidance on common customs activities linking the regional with national levels in coordinating the regional and national customs procedures and activities.

Addressing the delegates, Secretary General of COMESA Chileshe Kapwepwe said the meeting will advance the implementation of the adopted Customs and Trade Facilitation Work Programme covering the period 2018 – 2020.

“Our expectation is that issues that will discuss as customs experts should be relatively straightforward to implement as the challenges will be factored your deliberations,” she said.

COMESA launched the Customs Union on 7 June 2009 requiring Member States to align their national customs laws and tariffs with the regionally agreed customs union instruments. These are; the Common Market Customs Management Regulations, the Common Tariff Nomenclature the Common External Tariff and to provide their list of sensitive products.

“The progress so far made on the implementation of the required alignment to the Customs Union Instruments and the pronouncements by the Member States, reveal that continuous progress in the domestication of the Customs Union instruments,” the Secretary General observed.

Specifically, the Member States registered an overall alignment of 98.33% on Customs Management Regulations, which is remarkable success for implementation of common trade facilitation instruments in the region.

She urged Member States to take advantage of the availability of policy space such as the lists of sensitive and excluded products to address some of the concerns that have been raised while updating their progress of implementation through periodic reporting.

Principal Secretary, State Department of Trade in Kenya, Dr Chris Kiptoo, urged the customs experts to ensure successful implementation of its work program to improve the Customs cooperation and trade facilitation across the region.

Doing so, he said will help Member States to enhance intra-regional trade and attract investments into the region and accelerating the economic growth and development of the region.

The outputs of the Customs experts will be presented to the Trade and Customs Committee meeting scheduled for Friday and Saturday this week.