On January 28, 2016, in an effort to boost regional trade, the private sector and the COMESA business council organized the first tripartite private sector regional dialogue. Business experts from Africa’s three trade blocs of COMESA, EAC and SADC called for an expedited process to harmonize Rules Of Origin (ROO) to boost industrialization and intra- regional trade on the continent. Harmonizing rules of origin according to Steven Ruzibiza, the Chief Executive Officer, PSF will encourage competitiveness for the African private sector, and accelerate regional integration. Rules of origin are the criteria needed to determine the national source of a product. The importance is derived from the fact that duties and restrictions in several cases depend on the source of imports. And according to experts, stakeholders should move fast and have the rules harmonized to help avoid trade deflection on the continent.
Sandra Uwera, the Chief Executive Officer, COMESA Business Council and Secretary General of the Tripartite Private Sector Regional Dialogue, said the way the rules of origin are designed and implemented on the continent will have profound implications on trade flows and the extent of regional integration.