A. General Information
Electronic Certificate of Origin to Facilitate Trade in SADC Region
B. Lessons Learned
he implementation of the eCoO is one of the milestones of the Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP), which is supported by the European Union and GIZ under the “Cooperation for the Enhancement of SADC Regional Economic Integration” (CESARE) programme that provides for capacity-building and technical assistance in border cooperation by ensuring the implementation of SADC Coordinated Border Management Guidelines and the provisions of the World Trade Organisation (WTO’s) Trade Facilitation Agreement, particularly on improving the efficiency of their operations.
The e-CoO, which replaces the manual SADC Certificate of Origin issued by the issuing authority in the country of origin of the goods, will help the trader to apply on-line, trace the application and get the response on the submission digitally, thus infusing efficiency in the process. Unlike the manual Certificate of Origin, the eCoO will significantly reduce fraud at border posts owing to its security features such as online e-CoO authenticity verification and the optical watermarking technology.
The SADC eCoO Framework was approved by the Committee of Ministers of Trade in 2019. To date Customs Administrations and Revenue Authorities of Eswatini, Malawi and Zambia have developed their eCoO modules and other Member States are working on piloting the Framework. It is expected that all Member States will implement the e-CoO by 2024.
Challenges which traders and customs officials have been facing in using the manual Certificate of Origin (CoO) in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) will be resolved as soon as the SADC Electronic Certificate of Origin (e-CoO) becomes operational.
Intra-SADC regional trade is being slowed down by delays and other involved costs in the manual processing of the CoO from start to end, contributing to the total negative effect on trade. As one of the key focus areas for the SADC Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP), the e-CoO will increase the seamless flow of intra-trade across the Region by eliminating impediments caused by the manual process.
This procedure is, however, cumbersome as it requires traders to go physically to the offices of the authority responsible for the issuance of the CoO in order to lodge the relevant application and obtain response on the issuance of the certificate. Once the issuing authority has verified that goods declared by the exporter conform to SADC rules, the CoO is then transmitted to the country of import.
Implementation of the e-CoO will simplify this process, since it will allow the trader to apply on-line, trace the application and get the response on the submission through the same platform. The Customs authority of the importing country will verify online the e-CoO authenticity without the need to receive the original paper-based certificate.
With the SADC e-Certificate of Origin, issuance of certificates is done through a system, and the authorization process, which includes registration of exporters, stamps and signatures, is done in electronic format. The electronic system will allow manufacturers, producers and exporters to electronically register their products for preferential treatment and apply for certificates of origin whenever there is an export shipment. Furthermore, the system allows Customs officers to approve the system electronically.
Certificates of Origin/Preferential COs
The eCoO is paperless, making it environmentally friendly
It supports the regional quest to enhance e-Commerce and automation hence addressing some of the communicable diseases such as COVID-19.
Eliminates Certificates of Origin related fraud since there is an immediate transmission of certified certificate of origin to designated third party recipients in a secure electronic environment
Saves times as there is no need to visit Customs offices for application and registration. These are done online.
Reduces transaction cost
Reduces errors and duplicate entries
Provides direct accessibility of Customs Administration in importing country to the Certificate of Origin issued by the exporting authority
Allows for properly documented production and process that enables Customs to ascertain the origin of goods easily
Ensures improved record management
Reduces Cross-border certificate verification time
Improves available accurate statistical data
The implementation of the eCoO is one of the milestones of the Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP), which is supported by the European Union and GIZ under the “Cooperation for the Enhancement of SADC Regional Economic Integration” (CESARE) programme that provides for capacity-building and technical assistance in border cooperation by ensuring the implementation of SADC Coordinated Border Management Guidelines and the provisions of the World Trade Organisation (WTO’s) Trade Facilitation Agreement, particularly on improving the efficiency of their operations.
The Framework is now being piloted in Eswatini, Malawi and Zambia. Work is on-going for the Framework to be piloted in
Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
SADC in Brief
SADC is an organisation of 16 Member States established in 1980 as the Southern African Development Coordinating Conference (SADCC) and later, in August,1992 transformed into the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The mission of SADC is to promote sustainable and equitable economic growth and socio-economic development through efficient, productive systems, deeper cooperation and integration, good governance and durable peace and security; so that the region emerges as a competitive and effective player in international relations and the world economy. Member States are Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.