Rwanda is a member of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa- COMESA. This implies while trading with the 19 other members of the common market Rwanda has to adhere to COMESA Rules of origin. Such rules ensure that the benefits of preferential tariff treatment provided under this trade regime are exclusively confined to goods originating in the COMESA member states.

For the purposes of implementing the protocol on rules of origin, COMESA member states are considered as one territory.

Origin criteria

Among 20 COMESA Member States, the commonly used independent criteria are based on products that are wholly produced or those that have gone under substantial transformation, as follows:

  • Goods should be wholly produced in member states. Such products do not contain any imported materials at all. These include products such as: Products obtained from live animals within the member states and vegetable products harvested within the member states.
  • Goods should be produced in the member states and the CIF value of any foreign material should not exceed 60% of the total cost of all material used in their production.
  • Goods should be produced in the member states and attain a value added of at least of 35% of the ex-factory cost of the goods (The value of the total inputs required to produce a given product).

However, there may be products obtained following a number of manufacturing or processing operations carried out successively in the countries that are contracting parties to the preferential trade agreement. To this end, raw materials or semi- finished goods originating in any of the member States and undergoing working or processing either in one or more States shall, for the purposes of determining the origin of a finished product, be deemed to have originated in the member state where the final processing or manufacturing takes place, provided they have undergone substantial transformation. Rule (3) of the protocol.

In calculation of ex-factory cost, the following should be put into consideration:

  • Inclusions:
    • Cost of imported materials
    • Cost of local material
    • Cost of direct labour
    • Cost of direct expenses
    • Cost of factory overheads
  • Exclusions
    • Administration expenses
    • Selling expenses
    • Distribution expenses
    • Charges not directly attributed to the manufacture of goods.

Direct consignment rule

Goods shall be consigned directly from one member state to a consignee in another member state. This implies that goods shall be transported directly from a consignor in another member state. This is meant to minimize fraud through transshipment of third country goods. However, goods consigned from and to land locked member states may for purposes of transportation, transit through other countries, as long as the goods remain under Customs control.

What makes a valid COMESA Certificate of Origin at time of importation?

A valid certificate of origin shall satisfy the following conditions:

  • The certificate shall measure 210mm by 297mm on a light green paper with a COMESA watermark on paper sized for writing weighing not less than 25g/square Metre with a gulloche pattern background to make falsification chemical or mechanical means apparent to the eye.
  • It shall have been issued by a governmental agency designated for that purpose by a member state shall initial any alterations.
  • It shall contain all the particulars necessary for identifying the product(s) to which it Relates.
  • It shall have been completed in type or legibly handwritten in ink.
  • It contains no errors. An authorized signatory of the designated issuing authority of a member state shall initial any alterations.
  • It shall certify unambiguously that the product(s) to which it relates originated in a specific COMESA member state.
  • It shall bear the official stamp and an original signature of a signatory of the designated issuing authority.
  • It shall bear an original signature of the exporter.
  • It shall bear a serial number in the top right hand corner.

Re-exportation of COMESA originating goods

Re-exportation of COMESA originating goods and issue of new certificate(s) of origin either whole or partial consignments of originating goods from a COMESA country to another COMESA country shall be facilitated with the issuance of a new Certificate of origin by the second exporting country provided the goods remained at all times under customs control.

COMESA preferential rates

The table showing the implementation of COMESA preferential rates based principle of reciprocity

Countries Reduction level Rwanda National Tariff COMESA Tariff to be applied
Rwanda 100% Final product: 30% Semi-finished:15% Raw material:5% Equipment:0% 0%
Djibouti Egypt Madagascar Malawi Mauritius Sudan Zambia Zimbabwe Burundi Libya Comoros 100% Final product: 30% Semi-finished:15% Raw material:5% Equipment:0% 0%
Eritrea 80% Final product:30% Semi-finished:15% Raw material:5% Equipment:0% 6% 3% 1%
Angola Seychelles Ethiopia Swaziland Democratic Republic of Congo Law No published COMESA Tariff Final product:30% Semi-finished:15% Raw material:5% Equipment:0% 30% 5% 0%


Any person who knowing furnished or causes to be furnished a document which is untrue in any material particular for the purpose of obtaining a certificate of origin or during the course of any subsequent verification of such certificate, will be guilty of an offence and be liable to penalties.

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