Significant Progress Reported on Madagascar ePhytos, Advance rulings

Two pioneering initiatives to streamline customs and other border arrangements in Madagascar took another significant step forward when the relevant steering groups reported steady progress towards implementation at a second round of steering committee meetings.

The Alliance is working with the public and private sectors in Madagascar to update and digitalise processes to boost the Indian Ocean island’s trade.

The first of the projects, initiated in March 2021, and expected to conclude in April 2022, is supporting Madagascar in introducing electronic phytosanitary certificates, or ePhytos, and in joining the ePhyto hub, an initiative led by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Secretariat.

Working alongside the Plant Protection Directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries and local and international agri-food companies, joining this electronic hub will enable the electronic exchange of ePhytos with trading partners quickly, accurately and at low cost.

The partners anticipate the new processes will be particularly beneficial for the country’s micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which are currently discouraged by red tape from exporting their goods.

After the meeting, the Alliance signed documentation to release the necessary IT equipment it has committed to provide as part of a package designed to implement the new system and to make it operational.

Successful deployment, which will save time and cut trading costs, should prove hugely beneficial for an island where agriculture accounts for more than 25% of GDP, around 70% of export earnings and employs around 80% of the population.

The second project, which also began in March 2021, centres on introducing a system of advance rulings on tariff classification and customs origin.

Traders will be able to request an advance ruling regarding customs regulations knowing that the resulting legal opinion will be binding, uniformly applied by Customs, and valid for a set period, usually several years.

The advance ruling model gives companies the confidence to conduct trade with a clear legal opinion covering their goods before they ship, reducing the chance of disputes at Customs.

Both projects are supporting Madagascar in implementing its commitments under the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.

The second round of meetings was hosted by the country’s National Trade Facilitation Committee.

The meeting was chaired by Director General of Customs and Co-President of NTFC Madagascar Lainkana Ernest Zafivanona. It was also attended by private sector association representatives, including Fivondronan’ny Mpandraharaha Malagasy (FIVMPAMA), Syndicat des Industries de Madagascar (SIM) and Le Groupement des Entreprises de Madagascar (GEM), and technical experts working on the projects.

The Alliance Director, Philippe Isler, addressed the participants remotely.