Minister of State Kassahun Gofe has failed to fulfill a promise made in June
Ethiopian trade negotiators are making renewed efforts to finalize Ethiopia’s tariff offering lines, aiming to join the ranks of countries that have implemented the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), after facing repeated delays.
As the Ministry of Trade and Regional Integration (MoTRI) prepares to submit Ethiopia’s bid to the AfCFTA headquarters in Accra, Ghana, officials are hopeful that the tariffs will be approved at the upcoming AfCFTA Council of Ministers summit in South Africa at the end of November 2023.
Despite previous announcements by officials, the submission has been postponed several times.
In June 2023, Kassahun Gofe, the State Minister of MoTRI, informed Members of Parliament (MPs) that his office had completed the preparation of the tariff and would submit it to the Council during the African Trade Ministers meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, in mid-July 2023.
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“One thing that the Parliament can take pride in is the success of nearing the approval of AfCFTA,” Kassahun told MPs back in June.
“Ethiopia approved the goods and service offers and would submit them at the Nairobi summit in July,” he said at the time.
However, no submission was made so far.
Despite being one of the first countries to endorse the idea of AfCFTA, Ethiopia’s trade officials have been contemplating the submission of the tariff offers required before AfCFTA operationalization, even though several countries have had their offers approved and joined AfCFTA’s operationalization in January 2021.
A senior official at MoTRI told The Reporter that the experts have completed preparation of the tariff document, with the officials of the secretariat reviewing the first draft and providing their inputs.
“We planned to announce the submission of the tariff document to the AfCFTA secretariat last July during the Ministers’ meeting in Nairobi, but our management didn’t attend it,” disclosed the official at the Trade Ministry.
Ethiopia was represented by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen during the Nairobi meeting.
The Ministry intends to send at least the goods tariff offering to the secretariat in the next two weeks to undergo a technical review and internal approval before being submitted to the summit.
“Once the secretariat approves the offer in the coming weeks, we will hopefully get it endorsed during the summit in South Africa,” the official said.
While the government attributes the delays to the political situation in Ethiopia, concerns about customs revenue loss and dumping have been the underlying factors before opening the market to African players.
Member states are required to eliminate customs charges on 90 percent of their goods and services, reciprocating the same for other African businesses. Of the 6,000 goods and services potentially traded in Africa, 90 percent will be traded tariff-free among African states.
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