Addis Ababa August 12/2012(ENA) African countries need to harmonize COVID-19 border regulations in order to reduce delays, while not undermining the safety of trade, according to a new report released by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
The Regional Integration and Trade Division (RITD) at ECA released today a report entitled “Facilitating Cross-Border Trade through a Coordinated African Response to COVID-19”.
The report provides a critical assessment of existing border restrictions and regulations, with a view to providing guidance on how to strike an appropriate balance between curbing the long term spread of the virus and facilitating emergency and essential trade.
Following the COVID-19 outbreak, nearly all African countries have imposed various degrees of restrictions on cross-border movement of goods and people, including suspension of international flights, quarantine requirements for entrants, and closures of land and maritime borders.
Such regulations, as stated in the report, typically cover mandatory testing, sanitizing trucks, limiting the numbers of crew members, and designating transit resting areas.
These restrictions and regulations have helped in the continent’s COVID-19 battle, but they have also had negative impacts on cross-border trade and economic activity, the report indicated.
“In light of these challenges, it is crucial that African countries cooperate to harmonize COVID-19 border regulations in order to reduce delays, while not undermining the safety of trade,” the report urged.
The report has proposed fast tracking implementation of existing Regional Economic Community (REC) COVID-19 guidelines, including through establishing regional coordinating committees with the primary task of addressing operational issues at national borders.
In addition, these regional efforts must also be coordinated at the continental level through the African Union, it added.
“A common COVID-19 AU Protocol on trade and transport is needed given the overlap in membership of RECs and shared trade facilitation goals of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).”
According to the report, a common African Union COVID-19 test certificate for truck drivers and crew members will also be required to facilitate movement of essential personnel across borders with the least possible interference.