The World Customs Organization (WCO), under EU-WCO Origin Africa Programme funded by the European Union (EU), and in partnership with the Southern African Development Community (SADC), conducted a validation workshop on the alignment of the SADC Rules of Origin to the 2022 edition of the Harmonized System (HS). The workshop, which took place from 20 to 23 March 2023, in Johannesburg, South Africa, follows a request by SADC to align its rules of origin. The EU-WCO RoO Africa Programme has provided two preceding technical assistance workshops to update the SADC rules of Origin from the 2002 to the 2022 version of the HS. This process is considered a significant and important step towards the implementation of the SADC Protocol on Trade. During the workshop, SADC experts, together with the EU-WCO RoO Africa Programme team, presented the initial draft of the technical updates on Appendix I of the SADC Rules of Origin to the HS 2022 edition. Participants, including Customs Administrations and Ministry of Trade representatives from SADC member states, considered and took note of the draft technical alignments from Chapter 1 to 97 of the HS and from regional Chapter 98.
WTO members considered regional trade agreements (RTAs) between the United Kingdom and the European Union, Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) States and Japan at the 27 March meeting of the Committee on Regional Trade Agreements. They also considered RTAs between India and Mauritius, and Türkiye and Serbia. Members furthermore discussed how to improve the functioning of the Committee.
WTO members exchanged information on existing regulatory and legal frameworks on e-commerce at a dedicated discussion held under the Work Programme on Electronic Commerce on 22 March. Members also shared national experiences and challenges related to the establishment of those frameworks and the role the WTO can play in this area.
On 4 April 2023, the Philippines notified the WTO’s Committee on Safeguards that it initiated on 4 April 2023 a “preliminary safeguard investigation” on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders.
The United States deposited its instrument of acceptance for the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies on 11 April, making it the fourth WTO member, and the first among the large fishing nations, to do so. The formal acceptance by the United States marks a pivotal moment for the approaching entry into force of the landmark agreement for ocean sustainability, said Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as she received the instrument from U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai in Washington, D.C. Acceptances from two-thirds of WTO members are needed for the Agreement to come into effect.