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Welcome to the COMESA/EAC/SADC Tripartite Rules of Origin database. The database contains the rules of origin applied under the preferential trading arrangements of the three Regional Economic Communities and rules of origin applied under the Generalized System of Preferences Scheme of the European Union (EU-GSP) and the American Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

Rules of Origin are important to avoid trade diversions from occurring. If there were no Rules of Origin to be observed, a Member State of a Regional Economic Community (REC) could import goods from a country outside the COMESA-EAC-SADC region and then re-export it within COMESA/EAC/SADC FTA's, free of import duty. This would mean that the goods would simply transit through the Member State and the exporting country would be benefitting from a preference intended only for Member States of the REC, while no benefit would accrue to the other REC partners. This would also have a negative impact on other countries trading with the preference-giving country.

To be effective, a preferential or free trade agreement must have transparent and simple Rules of Origin that promote trade, while ensuring that no/minimal trade diversion takes place.

The database

This database lists the Rules of Origin which must be adhered to for goods to qualify for tariff preferences on the importation into,

  • EAC Partner States under the Customs Union Agreement;
  • COMESA Member States under the COMESA Free Trade Area;
  • SADC Member States under the SADC Free Trade Area;
  • EU-GSP scheme beneficiaries;
  • AGOA eligible countries.

The database can be used to,

  • Determine the Rules of Origin that are applicable under each preferential trade regime for exports to a target market;
  • Determine the Rules of Origin that are applicable under each preferential trade regime for imports into the country;
  • Compare the rules of origin across different Regional Economic Communities and other important trading partners to facilitate negotiations for the Tripartite Free Trade Area.

Which countries benefit under the various preferential trading arrangements?

  • EAC Partner States are Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda;
  • COMESA Member States are Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe ;
  • SADC Member States are Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Namibia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe
  • There are over 150 beneficiaries under the EU GSP Scheme: link
  • The AGOA Scheme covers 35 eligible African countries:

What is an originating product?

When "originating products" are trade among members of a preferential trading arrangement, they will qualify for reduced or duty free importation depending on whether the trading arrangement is at the Preferential Trade Area or Free Trade Area stage.

An originating product is either:-

  • A product which has been 'wholly obtained'.

    This term applies normally to the following groups of goods;

    1. Minerals and other naturally occurring products extracted from the soil or from their seabed of a country;
    2. Vegetable products harvested therein;
    3. Live animals born and raised therein;
    4. Products from live animals raised therein;
    5. Products obtained by hunting or fishing conducted there; products of aquaculture, including mariculture, where the fish are born and raised therein;
    6. Products obtained from the rivers or lakes within the Member States by vessels of that Member State;
    7. Products obtained from the sea outside the territorial waters by their vessels of a country;
    8. Products made aboard their factory ships exclusively from products referred to in subparagraph (f);
    9. Used articles collected there fit only for the recovery of raw materials, including used tyres fit only for re-treading or for use as waste; and
    10. Waste and scrap resulting from manufacturing operations conducted therein;
  • A product which incorporates materials or parts not wholly obtained which have undergone "substantial transformation of have been sufficiently worked or processed".

    If a good is manufactured using a percentage imported components then the good only originates from a country where “substantial transformation” takes place. There are a number of ways in which to determine substantial transformation, including:

    1. The value added in the production process. Simply put this calculates the value of the local inputs used to manufacture a product as a percentage of the value of the finished product. The calculation determines the contribution done to the imported input arising from the use of local materials, labour and overheads.
    2. Change of Tariff Classification usually at the 4-digit level of the Harmonised System , which is usually referred to as a Change of Tariff Heading (CTH) rule. If a product changes its HS heading in the process of manufacture (such as making bread from wheat flour – bread is a different chapter heading or code to wheat flour) then, using this rule, origin is conferred in the country that the transformation takes place.
    3. Process application, where a specific process has to be applied to a product for origin to be conferred. An example of a specific process is in the SADC RoO where Tariff Line 4302 (Tanned or dressed fur-skins) specifies that the process that must be used if origin is to be conferred is "bleaching or dyeing, in addition to cutting and assembly of non-assembled tanned or dressed fur-skins". A second example is in 7216 (Angles, shapes and sections or iron or non-alloy steel) where the process specified is "manufacture by cold-rolling or cladding". Any other processes used will not confer origin.
    4. Value of material calculation, where origin is conferred when a certain percentage (or higher percentage) of local materials or a certain percentage of imported materials (or lower percentage) are used.

Using the database

Legal texts stating the Rules of Origin are the primary sources used to determine the origin of a product. Official documentation can be found on the following sites,

The database can be searched by means of a entering a key word related to a specific product or by entering the product’s 6-digit Harmonized System Code.

The appropriate code for your product can be found via your Clearing and Forwarding Agent or via the Customs Authorities of your country.