The East African Community (EAC) Secretariat with support from the World Customs Organization (WCO), has commenced the process of digitalization of its Common External Tariff (CET). The digitalization efforts are aimed at enhancing the participation and access to trade information of the private sector in international trade.
The platform, which is currently under development in partnership with Global Trade Solution (GTS), will enable seamless migration of the EAC CET during transposition of Harmonized System (HS); administration and management of the Duty Remission Scheme (including application, assessment, approval and gazettement); production of information and publication of other measures affecting implementation of CET.
The platform will also include management of preferential tariff treatment on originating goods imported from Regional Economic Communities (RECs) where EAC Partner States are members. In addition, it will provide pictorial illustrations of products per tariff line as well as a link to WCO Harmonized System Explanatory Notes.
Accessible electronically from both computers and mobile devices, the platform will contain searchable functionalities by tariff code or generic product description, with data extraction for statistical purposes as may be required by users.
The EAC currently implements a four band Common External Tariff with a minimum rate of 0% for raw materials and capital goods; 10% for intermediate goods not available in the region; 25% for intermediate goods available in the region and 35% for imported finished products available in the region. There are other products classified as Sensitive products which attract a rate above 35% as listed in Schedule 2 of the CET.
In automating the EAC CET, the scale, scope and speed of engagement by private sector is expected to increase as a result of enhanced access to trade information in a digitally connected environment.
To date, significant progress has been registered in the development of the platform, including the finalization and beta-testing of some key modules, while piloting of the system has been ongoing on a test environment on the EAC website since July 2020.
The platform is expected to be launched and available for public use by 30th June, 2023.