Legal Instruments for Trade and Transport Facilitation for Africa: AN ASSESMENT OF THE STATUS OF IMPLEMENTATION OF AGREEMENTS TOWARDS A CONTINENTAL FREE TRADE AREA Prepared for UNECA Experts Group Meeting July 15, 2013 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia by OMETERE OMOLUABI Consultant on Trade and Transport email@example.com
Content • Objectives/Purpose of Study • Methodology and Scope • Study Highlights • Specific Findings by Topic • Maritime and Port Facilities • Harmonization of Customs Procedures and Documentation • Customs Transit Guarantees and Bonds • Third Party Motor Vehicle Insurance Systems • Trade Liberalization • Free Movement of People • Corridor Management Initiatives • Transit for Landlocked Countries • Interstate Road Transport • Key Reasons for non-Implementation of Legal Instruments • Recommendations for Improving Implementation of Legal Instruments • Conclusions and General Recommendations
1. Introduction Study Objective: Assess the implementation of legal instruments and agreements made on trade and transport for Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) at the international, continental and sub-regional levels. Why: Provides a baseline for evaluating progress and recommendations for harmonizing legal instruments towards a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).
Methodology: • Desk Review of existing compendium of legal instruments (2012) completed by SSATP/UNECA/AU/AfDB • Developed separate questionnaires for interviews with relevant departments within RECs, Member States (implementers) and Others (private sector, civil society, etc) • Evaluation of Implementation of legal instruments by status of Signing, Ratification, Promulgation in national law, and actual practice • Comparison of international best practices with regional practice RECs surveyed : COMESA, EAC, ECCAS, ECOWAS, SADC
2. Study Highlights • Implementation of legal instruments is occurring at varying degrees through several regional, national and bilateral efforts, creating a challenge for convergence towards the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). • Dissemination of the rules set forth by legal instruments in addition to monitoring and evaluation of their implementation has been neglected, therefore resulting in poor information for implementers and end-users. • Uninformed private sector results in non-compliance and lack of trust in the regional systems • Poor coordination and communication between RECs and Member States also accounts for a decent percentage of poorly implemented instruments. • The private sector also reports the lack of political will of their national governments as the greatest impediment to trade and transport facilitation.
3.1 Maritime Port Facilities • Some progress has been made with regards to adoption of key maritime conventions, such as the 1965 London Convention on facilitation of international maritime traffic (22 of 114 contracting states are in SSA). • CEMAC made the most visible attempt at incorporating international best practices in maritime transport into the CEMAC Shipping Code. • Other countries also became party to the Abidjan Maritime Charter of ECOWAS and the 1977 Accra Convention on the Institutionalization of the Ministerial Conference on Maritime Transport.
Maritime Port Facilities:Challenges to Implementation • Poor infrastructure and low use of ICT for electronic data sharing, as recommended in international conventions • Low volumes of maritime transport continent-wide, fewer investments have been made in this regard.
3.2 Harmonization of Customs Procedures and Documentation Way Forward: • The WCO has encouraged its Members to accede to the revised Kyoto Convention as it provides additional benefits, especially in early accession, including the “announcement effect” which has positive implications of being certified as having international customs standards in place. It also provides an advantage versus non-contracting parties in trade negotiations and capacity building. • Countries which have not acceded to key WCO conventions such as the Revised Kyoto Convention.
3.3 Transit Bonds and Guarantees All RECs have integrated transit guarantees into regional requirements for transport of goods, however, only COMESA and SADC have shown significant progress in implementation. • COMESA has recently implemented the Regional Customs Transit Guarantee (RCTG), which is operated via insurance companies, and has shown to be a reliable model, subject to its sustainability. • The private sector is generally content with the guarantee system within SADC. • ECOWAS, through the Inter-State Road Transit (ISRT) Convention instituted a Guarantee Scheme, however, the private sector remains frustrated with having to obtain a new bond for every country in the transit journey.
3.4 Third Party Motor Vehicle Insurance Systems • Third party motor vehicle insurance has been one of the most successfully translated concepts from international legal instruments into regional law. • ECOWAS-CEMAC-COMESA-SADC Insurance schemes work on the basis of cooperation between insurance companies and national bureaux responsible for managing the system. Challenges: • Claims settlement process is often unclear, tedious and lengthy; • In the event of an accident, transporters are left stranded in the transiting country and are unable to access help even when they report to the Bureau. • Language and translation barriers, • falsification of insurance cards, especially within ECOWAS.
Recommendations: Third Party Motor Vehicle Insurance • Member States should adopt an electronic system of issuance of insurance cards which will help to streamline the process and ensure the genuineness of cards issued. • Member States should also audit motor vehicle insurance companies to ensure that pending claims are settled, in line with the provisions of third party vehicle insurance.
3.5 Customs Modernization towards Trade Liberalization • All RECs have realized the benefits of intra-regional trade in principle, as is obvious through the majority being WTO members and ratifications of the GATT. • Only 30% of SSA states have ratified the 1999 Revised Kyoto Convention, which is a crucial element SSA states must consider for advancement in trade and customs matters.
Recommendation : Customs, Trade and Transit Regimes • Member States should strive to incorporate ICT in trade facilitation reform • Interconnectivity of Customs systems will also enhance information exchange and cooperation between member states. • ECOWAS should expedite the Regional Customs Interconnectivity project
3.6 Free Movement of People Updates on Free Movement • In June 2013, CEMAC Heads of States reached an agreement on the abolition of visa requirement for all CEMAC citizens effective January 1, 2014. • Zambia and Tanzania recently ratified the 2005 SADC Protocol on Free Movement, which requires ratification of at least three-quarters of its member states for it to enter into force. • EAC is making similar attempts through the Common Market Protocol, which is however, experiencing some delays against its targeted implementation date of 2015. • Challenges: multiple memberships to RECs, slow harmonization of national law with regional agreements, peace and security issues, fear of loss of jobs for citizens and xenophobia • Way Forward towards CFTA: The complexity of managing multiple memberships and challenges of free movement creates an opportunity for the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite to lead towards convergence of regulations on immigration for a large population of Africans.
Recommendation : Free Movement of People • Members of SADC who are yet to ratify the Protocol on Free Movement of People should be given a deadline to do so, such that the Protocol can enter into force. • CEMAC states should ensure implementation of the new agreement on free movement of people which will become effective on January 1, 2014 • Member States within RECs should ensure uniform application of rules on visa requirements and immigration, and evolve towards regionally harmonized travel documentation. • COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite should leverage its existing agreement and harmonize regulations on free movement of people, in line with its fundamental goals which will further lead to increased intra-African trade.
3.7 Transit for Landlocked Countries • Some Corridor Organizations and Shippers’ Councils have made an impact, but can do more! • Progress has been made through corridor organizations such as the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Organization (ALCO), Central Corridor Transit Transport Facilitation Agency (TTFA), the Northern Corridor Transit Transport Facilitation Agency (NCTTA), and the Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative, which is described by the private sector as one of the most successful of its kind in the region. FESARTA is also actively mediating between RECs and private sector. Challenges: Reluctance to grant access for landlocked countries, few ratifications to international Conventions, lack of freighting options for landlocked countries, poor infrastructure from roads, port and rail Way Forward: landlocked and transit countries which have not already done so, should make efforts to streamline movement along corridors through accession to international transit conventions ; 1965 New York Convention on Transit Trade of landlocked countries, the Montego Bay Convention and make progress on the Almaty Programme of Action.
Recommendation : Corridor Management • Encourage implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action (APoA) through corridor performance monitoring and diversifying transportation networks, such as investments in rail infrastructure to create freighting options for landlocked countries. • Share and Learn from successful and unsuccessful experiences in One Stop Border Posts (OSBPs) design and implementation continent wide • Replicate SADC NTB reporting system which has had some successes in Southern Africa • Member States must make a firm commitment to support corridor organizations in their efforts at improving the competitiveness of the region. • Involve the private sector in developing trade and transport facilitation programs since they are the end-users of these initiatives.
Success Story: Tripartite NTB Reporting System • Available in EAC, COMESA and SADC • The private sector can register complaints along the corridors regarding harassment, illicit fees or arbitrary application of rules • According to FESARTA, Over 500 complaints have been recorded, 80% from SADC region • FESARTA plays a mediation role negotiate with relevant member states to solve the road transport complaints
3.8 Inter-state Road Transport: Axle Load Controls • For international conventions, the 1948 Convention on the Contract of International Carriage of Goods, 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic and the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals are relevant and have seen very few ratifications or accessions from SSA. • Although most RECs have successfully adopted regional vehicle standards, except for EAC, which is in the process of adopting a harmonized axle load limit, implementation is often times lacking, inconsistent and arbitrary. Additional effort must be made by member states to comply with regional standards. • Several attempts have been made within ECOWAS for intra-regional harmonization of axle loads as specified in the ECOWAS Land Transport Programme. The general experience in ECOWAS revealed that varying axle load limits created unpredictability along journeys. Way Forward: Since Member states are responsible for ensuring compliance at the national level, the private sector must be given a realistic deadline for compliance, given that the short to medium term costs of compliance will be significant for businesses.
Recommendation : Inter-state Road Transport – Regulations and Documentation • EAC should speed up discussions at the legislative assembly on the Axle Load Harmonization Bill • ECOWAS: The private sector within ECOWAS should be given a reasonable deadline to comply with axle load limits in the region and begin implementation in unison.
4. Key Reasons for non-Implementation of Legal Instruments • Lack of designated institutions at the national level to follow up with ratification process • Regional Conventions which cite international conventions which member countries have not ratified or acceded • Precedence of Bilateral Agreements over Regional Agreements • Failure to Properly Document Legal Instruments within Institutions • Lack of Knowledge and Poor Information Dissemination • Multiple memberships to RECs/ overlapping membership • Lack of Political Will • Poor Infrastructure to support Policies • Poor inter-agency coordination • Obsolete or Out-dated legal instruments
6. Conclusions • To ensure full implementation, national governments must evaluate the suitability, adaptability and process of becoming party to international legal instruments and identify the duration and changes necessary to be in full compliance. • RECs must leverage existing opportunities in relatively functional policies, as in the case of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite. Harmonizing policies will foster convergence and ultimately create larger trading opportunities continent-wide. • Proper Documentation of Legal Instruments is Key – Allows for dissemination, monitoring and evaluation and better coordination of efforts • Shared Responsibility in Implementation – RECs, Member States, Private Sector, Civil Society