Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) refer to a wide range of restrictive regulations and procedures, imposed by government authorities, that make importation or exportation of products difficult and/or costly.
However, not all government regulations or procedures that are costly for a trader can be considered NTBs. Regulations and procedures can be justified by the protection of human, animal or plant health, the environment, or other important public policy objectives. These measures may therefore not be ‘actionable’ as NTBs. Nevertheless, such measures should be proportionate and restrict trade as little as possible. Furthermore, they should not discriminate against foreign companies or products.
Any ‘Economic Operator’ in an AfCFTA State Party can report NTBs. Economic operators can be importers, exporters, transport and freight operators, MSMEs (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises), women traders and anyone else involved in cross-border trade among AfCFTA State Parties. The AfCFTA NTB mechanism ensures that everyone is heard equally.
Government officials can also register NTBs in the same way.
To use the online form, you first need to register. While registering takes a little more time, it’s easier to follow-up on your complaint. You will also receive Email notifications about the latest status of your NTB.
The reporting via mobile phone (SMS) is being rolled out gradually. It may not yet be available in your country. Have a look here and select your country to see if a local phone number is available for SMS reporting.
To use the online form, you first need to register. Registration is quick and easy. You only need to provide your name, contact details, country of residence, Email address and a password.
Yes, you can use your mobile phone for SMS text messaging without internet connection.
The service is rolled out gradually and may not yet be available in your country. Have a look here and select your country to see if a local phone number is available for SMS reporting.
When using the SMS reporting service, it is very important to clearly provide the following information in detail:
• What is the problem?
• Where and when did it happen?
• Company/Trader's name
• Company/Trader's contact number
Provide as many details as possible and submit supporting documents. This increases your chances for a successful elimination of the NTB.
Describe in detail, what happened, where exactly it happened, why you think that the obstacle you are facing is unjustified. Be sure to submit supporting documents as proof, such as receipts, forms or even a photo. All of this will help the responsible government officials to assist you and resolve the NTB.
If your NTB report was rejected, check your Emails. You will usually receive a brief explanation why your report was rejected.
NTB reports are usually rejected if not enough information is provided. If that’s the case, you can resubmit your complaint with additional information.
Through the online system, your NTB report will be forwarded to government officials in your own country and the country where the NTB occurred. AfCFTA State Parties have National Focal Points and National Monitoring Committees that are responsible to address your concerns. The AfCFTA Agreement obliges them to try and resolve your NTB. In addition, the NTB Coordination Unit of the AfCFTA Secretariat will be informed and facilitate the process of monitoring and resolving NTBs.
You can read more details about the process in Annex 5 on NTBs of the AfCFTA Agreement and its Appendix 2.
The speed at which an NTB is resolved depends on the type of NTB. Some NTBs may be resolved within a few days – usually those that refer to the incorrect application of rules and procedures at the border. However, if the NTB refers to government regulations or procedures that you deem a barrier, the process can take longer.
Normally, the National Focal Points should try to resolve NTBs 2 to 3 months (so-called Stage 1 proceedings). However, if the State Parties don’t agree, they may appoint a facilitator (Stage 2 proceedings). This may add another 2 months to the process. If this doesn’t lead to a solution, the process can take longer.