Are you a successful farmer, manufacturer or a trader, aiming to export your product to Europe, America or any developed country? There are trade preferences that the European Union is offering to the developing world. To export any product to Europe, there are many issues that the exporter has to take into consideration. First of all, find out if your product will sell and if yes, which are the countries that you need to export your products to and the standard of the labeling requirements for the products within the European Union or the country you intend to market your products.

Diverse and confusing labeling rules remain a trade barrier between Africa and Europe and probably with other smaller economics around the world. Opportunities exist for unique labeling standards and to make sure that national and international rules are clear and that the process that develops them are predictable. Diversifying exports and switching to higher-value goods is identified by many, not least Africa needs to trade if it is to make money for developments of other infrastructure in the continent.

Until recently, agricultural trade for Africa has generally meant exporting a readily available, little processed commodity such as coffee, tea or cocoa. Many of these agricultural products are of low value. In addition they are frequently vulnerable to swings in the world market price which can leave a country’s economic base in a very precarious position. Therefore exporters form countries like Tanzania and Ghana have been riding the rollercoaster of fluctuating world prices for coffee and cocoa for decades now and the IMF and World Bank, as an economic partners but African can gain more from export trade to Europe.

What are the rules that the organic products need to comply with to be exported to Europe? On 1 January 2009 new EU regulations went into effect for the production, control and labeling of organic products however, some of the new provisions on labeling did not take effect until 1 July 2010. In June 2007, the European Council of Agricultural Ministers agreed to a new Council Regulation on organic production and labeling of organic products. This new Council regulation contains clearly defined goals, principles and general rules for organic production.

Export documentation; ensuring a smooth passage; organizing the right paperwork can make the export process much simpler and smoother. This applies if you are exporting a large amount of goods for sale or just taking a few samples to a trade show in Europe.

More importantly than ease of movement, not having the right paperwork can result in an importer not being able to accept the goods and the exporter not being paid. Certified export documentation is required by many countries. It is important to understand some of the most commonly used documents, and when they are required, to export successfully.

Certificates of origin verify the place of growth, production or manufacture of good and contain certification by an empowered authority. Certificate of Origin is a document, required by foreign governments, declaring that goods in a particular international shipment are of a certain origin. Even though the commercial invoice usually includes a statement of origin, some countries require that a separate certificate be completed. Customs offices will use this document to determine whether a preferential duty rate applies on the products being imported. Certificates of origin also are important because of trade agreements and regulations that might apply to goods coming from the United States.

The data required for a certificate of origin is generally the same as for a commercial invoice. Basic information includes a description of the goods, gross and net weight of goods, number of packages, mode of transportation, date and origin of shipment, and an address for the seller and buyer. The certificate will also include a brief statement as to the origin of the goods. A few countries require specialized, unique certificates of origin that might include more detailed information and/or require a specific wording for its origin declaration.

While some countries require certificates of origin for all products, others may only require them for certain types of products. Almost all Middle Eastern countries require that certificates of origin accompany all shipments. Most Latin American and European countries, however, only require the certificate for certain products, such as textiles. Certificates of origin are generally unnecessary in Asia unless requested by the importer. African nations run the gamut of requirements.


Importers are expected to pay an import tax on virtually every item they import, but few know how much they owe until their shipments arrive in Europe. Many importers are overcharged by Europe Customs at the border because they did not purchase a copy of the Europe Harmonized Tariff Schedule and properly classify their imports. Import taxes are based on the type of item you are importing and where it’s coming from.

Getting started? And you need assistance in determining if a certificate of origin is required for a particular country, please contact the Export Help desk website: E-mail:  And their postal address is:

European Commission
Directorate General for Trade
Market Access Unit
B-1049 Brussels

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