The meeting of SADC-EAC-COMESA rules of origin were held in Burundi on 4-7 August 2014.The purpose of the meeting was to harmonize the rules of origin in SADC, EAC, and COMESA in order to facilitate the launch of the Tripartite Free Trade Area by the end of 2014. The meeting adopted a three-stage approach to dealing with the rules of origin negotiations- namely:
- Rules of Origin that are common in the three bodies ( SADC, EAC and COMESA);
- Rules of Origin that are Similar in SADC, EAC and COMESA ;
- Rules of Origin that are different in SADC, EAC and COMESA.
All the 26 countries from SADC, EAC and COMESA were represented. Zambia was represented by officials from MCTI, Ministry of Finance, and ZNFU from the private sector.
As a result of slow progress on the common rules of origin negotiations, the meeting deferred discussions on the similar and different rules of origin to a later date. However, the meeting agreed on a wholly originating rule of origin to apply to the following agricultural products under the common rules of origin in SADC, EAC and COMESA in order to promote value addition in the region:
- All live animals ( e.g cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, chicken etc);
- Cereals ( maize, wheat, rice, rye etc);
- Oilseeds ( soya, ground nuts, cotton, linseed, and sunflower);
- Sugar cane, chemically pure sucrose;
- Unmanufactured tobacco and tobacco refuse.
Regarding the outstanding negotiations for similar and different rules of origin in SADC, EAC, and COMESA, the meeting requested member states to send their comments to the COMESA Secretariat by 18th October 2014. Going forward, the Union should keep the pressure on government to ensure that our negotiating positions on agricultural products are not compromised.