Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Education can help market EA states and region

Lack of awareness on the use of Certificates of Origin (CO) when East Africa business persons export within the region was a great talk last week in Kigoma’s Kasulu, a border town between Tanzania and Burundi. Goading the talk was Tanzania Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture (TCCIA) acting executive director Magdalena Mkocha, who said last year alone, not more than 10,000 COs were issued to exporters in Tanzania because of lack of awareness on part of the small cross border businesses. Mkocha was only commenting on how women faired when it came to the use of Certificates of Origin when exporting within the region. She observed that majority of women engaged in cross border trade as well as other businesses within the region were not familiar with the COs and the benefits it has to the economic activities they do. Appending a word at the function, TCCIA District Chairman Pius Luziba said there was a grand need for women to make use of certificates of origin for them to trade more effectively in the region. But what is a Certificate of Origin (CO)? A Certificate of Origin (CO) is  an important  international  trade document  attesting that  goods in a particular  export  shipment  are wholly  obtained, produced,  manufactured  or processed in a particular country. COs also constitute a declaration by the exporter. Virtually every country in the world considers the origin of imported goods when determining what duty will be assessed on the goods or in some cases, whether the goods may be legally imported at all.  They are two – ‘Non–Preferential’ and ‘Preferential Cos’. While the former are only ordinary and certify that the country of origin of a particular product does not qualify for any preferential treatment, the latter enable products to enjoy tariff reduction or exemption when they are exported to countries extending these privileges, for example, GSP Commonwealth Preference Certificate.  COs may be needed to comply with letters of credit, foreign customs requirements or buyer’s request. In most countries, chambers of Commerce are the key agents in the delivery of certificates of origin. However in some, this privilege may also be extended to other bodies such as ministries or customs authorities. In East African, almost all states are signatories to various protocols associated with the COs. Good enough chambers of commerce in these states have been mandated to issue certificates of origins to businesses operating in each respective state.  So when a trader makes use of COs, essentially it means they are marketing or selling the good name of their country, culture, people and the like. By not making good use of COs it means that one is either intentionally refusing to advertise their country as well as denying it any other future probable business. East African chambers have therefore a great onus to educate businesspersons so that they make use of COs to promote, not only their respective countries, but also the entire region.

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