Laws have opened doors for West Africa to more freely trade goods throughout the region and to the U.S. But many don’t understand the documentation needed to realize two of these schemes: The ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS), which supports free movement of transport, goods, and persons within the 15 countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which grants duty-free access to thousands of products from sub-Saharan Africa to the U.S. market.
To bridge this implementation gap, the Trade Hub organizes one-day workshops on customs documentation under the ETLS for regional trade and AGOA for exports to the U.S., targeting certified customs brokers and exporting companies.
Guided by the Trade Hub’s AGOA/Global Value Chain Coordinator, Abou Fall, all workshops have the same goals:
- Improve freight forwarders and exporters’ understanding of export documentation requirements in order to take advantage of AGOA or ETLS duty-free preferences
- Train each country’s AGOA Trade Resource Center coordinator to review exporters’ commercial invoices and ensure eligible products take advantage of these preference programs.
“A lot of products are not benefiting from the duty-exemptions under AGOA or the ETLS. The customs documentation trainings ensure that the procedures are well understood, and that ATRCs can provide a valuable service to exporters,” said Abou Fall, the Trade Hub’s AGOA/Global Value Chain Coordinator.
To complement these workshops, the Trade Hub will develop an export documentation guide in the each of these countries to ensure exporters understand the basics of documentation requirements, available early next year. AGOA/ETLS customs documentation trainings will continue in Burkina Faso and Senegal in 2016.