unctad.org | Boosting trade facilitation, a leverage for Central Africa regional integration
Boosting trade facilitation, a leverage for Central Africa regional integration
06 September 2019
For years now, countries in Central Africa have faced numerous challenges hindering prosperity in this region of the world. UNCTAD is committed to support developing countries to access the benefits of a globalized economy more fairly and effectively.

In this context, UNCTAD is supporting the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) to simplify, harmonize and standardize import, export and transit procedures, promoting regional trade and economic co-operation.

What has been achieved so far?

In 2016, UNCTAD signed a three-year €380,000 ($420,000) deal with the European Union (EU) to support Central African countries cut the costs of their cross-border trade.

The project aimed at strengthening the capacity of National Trade Facilitation Committees (NTFCs) in Cameroun, Gabon and São Tomé e Príncipe to:

  1. Improve coordination and implementation of trade facilitation reforms

  2. Comply with the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and other relevant regulations at national, regional and international levels

  3. Share lessons learned at the regional level

Three years later, we can affirm that these three countries are reaping the benefits of a more robust trade facilitation committee, able to adhere to their obligations as stated in the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. For instance, in the past couple of months, Cameroun and Gabon (the two WTO members of the project), have submitted their notifications of category B and C commitments to the WTO. UNCTAD support in the drafting of terms of reference as well as trade facilitation roadmaps has been instrumental to that success.

The chairpersons of the three NTFCs agree on the fact that the Empowerment Programme has helped develop effective and inclusive coordination processes leading to improve ownership of collective strategies to advance TF reforms.


Over 370 trade facilitation stakeholders (34% women) have been trained in these countries. They affirm that thanks to the training sessions they feel in a better position to fulfil their role as member of their NTFC.


UNCTAD work in this region does not stop here. Another EU-funded project is enabling to build capacities in Angola to adhere to trade facilitation standards, to support economic diversification. UNCTAD has also assisted the NTFCs in Burundi and Rwanda for over seven years now.

And the work continues…

UNCTAD will be soon widening its support to the remaining ECCAS countries (Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea) in the framework of a project in partnership with the ECCAS Secretariat and funded by the African Development Bank.

The project, which is yet to be officially signed, will bring the Empowerment Programme for National Trade Facilitation Committees to these five countries, and provide technical support to the ECCAS Secretariat, to enhance the capacity of its staff to monitor the implementation of trade facilitation reforms across the region.


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