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Services    >    Trade    >    International Agreements    >    GAFTA
GAFTA

Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA)

 
GAFTA was declared within the Social and Economic Council of the Arab League as an executive program to activate the Trade Facilitation and Development Agreement that has been in force since January 1st, 1998. The GAFTA includes in its membership 17 Arab countries:
 

1.Bahrain
7.Libya
13.Sudan
2.Egypt
8.Morocco
14.Syria
3.Iraq
9. Oman.
15. Tunis
4.Jordan
10.Palestine
16.United Arab Emirates
5.Kuwait
11. Qatar
17.Yemen
6.Lebanon
12. Saudi Arabia
 
 

 

Item
GAFTA  Agreement
 
              Validity
Pursuant to Decision No. 1317 D 59, the Economic and Social Council, at a meeting held on 19/2/1997, adopted the Executive Program and set a timeline for the establishment of an Arab Free Trade Area in accordance with the 1981 Agreement for Facilitation and Promotion of Trade among Member Countries.
     Entry into Force
The Agreement entered into force on 1/1/1998.
 
 
 
 
 
 
     Duty-Free Products
All trade among Arab member countries was subject to a gradual phase- out from 1/1/1998 until1/1/2005, which was the timeline set for establishing the Arab Free Trade Area. During the liberalization process Member countries were able, as per agreement during the implementation process, to schedule certain commodities for immediate liberalization. The FTA applies to all products as follows: Agricultural and
animal products, from Chapters 1 to 24, whether in their raw or processed
form.
During the liberalization process member countries were able to exclude from tariff reductions certain agricultural products depending on the production season. However, since 1/1/2005 all agricultural products became  exempt from customs duties and other fees and charges having similar effect.
Industrial products from HS Chapters 25 up to 96.
Provisions cited in this Program shall not apply to products or materials banned from importation, circulation or use in any member country for reasons related to religion, health, security and environment or because of quarantine rules. Member countries are required to submit a list of these products, as well as a list of any related amendments.
These provisions do not apply to commodities produced in free zones where specific procedures are yet to be established in connection with the treatment of such products.
      Preferential
      Treatment
Reduction rates reached zero level by 2005.
 

 

Summary and Developments

 

Main provisions:
  1. Gradual reduction in tariff rates, fees, and taxes with similar implications at an annual rate of 10% starting 1/1/1998 and based upon rates effective  January 1st 1998.
  2. Products that are forbidden (to be traded) for religious, environmental, security, and health reasons are exempted from the Execution Program of  GAFTA. These products will be subjected to applicable national laws.
  3. Removal of all non-trade barriers (administrative, quotas, and monetary)
  4. Application of the “Agricultural Calendar” given the following conditions:
    - Maximum of ten products to be included on the list per country
    - The maximum time allowed for a listed product to remain on the calendar is 7 months (per year) with a maximum of 45 months in total for all listed products.
    - The Agricultural Calendar does not authorize prohibitions. Products included in the calendar are allowed to enter, however they do not benefit from the  gradual reductions in tariff rates during specific time periods. Note that in other periods, the same listed products would be subjected to the lower rates.
  5. The possibility of exempting a number of industrial products from the Execution Program of GAFTA, subject to certain rules and conditions and based upon a decision of the Social and Economic Council of the Arab League.
 Recently a number of amendments to the implementation program were introduced, among which, changes to the agricultural calendar whereby the maximum number of products listed was reduced from 10 to 9 and the maximum number of months permitted for all listed products was reduced from 45 to 35 months (see bullet 4).
By the end of 2002, sixteen countries, including Lebanon, has signed on to GAFTA with most countries facing difficulties in implementing the Executive Program.
The challenges facing Lebanon include protecting infant industries and addressing the fiscal implications as a result of liberalizing trade with members of GAFTA.

For more information:

For the complete list of model seals and signatures of persons authorized to issue and the ratify the certificates of origin, in Lebanon, please Click Here to go to the Arabic section.

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