On Friday, 18 February 2022, the East African Community (EAC) countries took a giant stride ahead by approving the bloc’s tariff offer for category A products worth $90.2 billion. It will be liberalised in ten years when the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) opens for business.
Agroprocessing, agriculture, transportation and the automobile industry, pharmaceuticals and textiles all fall under category A items.
The EAC is now one of the state parties that has met the basic standards for category A trading to begin on a temporary basis. The new development was revealed at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania, during a meeting of regional ministers of trade, industry, finance and investment (SCTIFI).
The extraordinary SCTIFI also instructed the EAC secretariat to call an experts meeting by 15 April 2022 to discuss the EAC tariff offer categories B and C. The tariff offers from the EAC partner states will now be verified by the AfCFTA secretariat, which is situated in Accra, Ghana.
The AfCFTA has so far reviewed 29 tariff offers to ensure that they fit the modalities, with the number of tariff offers to be verified by the EAC partner states increasing to 34. The tariff offers will be verified to ensure that AfCFTA member states who fulfill the minimum standards can begin trade under the AfCFTA.
In order to determine the maximum rate for the common external tariff (CET), the SCTIFI directed partner states to consult on the secretariat’s analysis of the proposed maximum CET rates and to submit comments on the analysis and the proposed maximum CET rates of 30%, 33%, and 35% to the secretariat by 15 March 2022. The ministers instructed the secretariat to call an “extraordinary SCTIFI meeting” on 18 March to discuss the maximum CET rate.