The International Finance Cooperation (IFC) is in the process of developing the East African Community (EAC) Trade Logistics Programme that will cut logistical costs through elimination of customs delays.
The move by the investment arm of the World Bank aims at ensuring timely delivery of imports and exports, focusing on simplifying and harmonising procedures and documentation.
It will also focus on integrating risk management systems into border inspections and clearance, as well as implementing electronic processing of documents.
Uma Subramanian, Programme Manager, Trade Logistics Investment advisory Services of the World Bank Group said that IFC’s role entirely involves offering technical support to EAC governments.
“We are still in the process. We expect it to be complete by mid 2010,” She said at the fifth trade logistics business roundtable at Kigali Serena Hotel on Tuesday.
The business roundtable was organised by the Rwanda Investment Climate Advisory Service of the World Bank Group in collaboration with Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA).
The move follows IFC and RRA trade logistics reforms that have yielded achievements in Rwanda
“We will do the same as we have done in Rwanda,” Subramanian said.
It also comes a few weeks the World Bank Doing Business 2010 report pointed out that Rwanda has registered tremendous improvement in reducing the time to export and import.
The report said that on the basis of trading across boarders, an importer requires 17 days to import into Rwanda, down from 96 days in 2007 while an exporter requires only 10 days, down from 60 days in 2007.
However, the cost for importing and exporting a container is still high at $5,070 and $3,275 respectively, up from $4080 and $3840 in 2007.
Eugene Torero, Deputy Commissioner General of RRA said that the tax body will continue to dialogue with the business community in order to improve the international trade environment in Rwanda.
He said that RRA has purchased three mobile scanners that will be installed at Gatuna, Rusumo and Magerwa in response to global trade supply chain security and trade facilitation requirements.
The project, which targets high risk containers, will reduce clearing time as manual physical inspection will be minimised.
Torero who is also the Chairman of Trade Logistics Working group said the tax authority has embarked on the installation of ASY-SCAN, a system that allows scanned supporting document to be attached to an electronic declaration.
According to Torero, this will facilitate both customs and clearing agencies to have electronic filing system. “Installation and piloting with one customs is expected at the October 2009,” he said.
RRA is also planning to pilot a facility called Authorised Economic Operators that will be given to the most compliant traders or clearing agents whereby their goods are released without conducting inspection.
The tax authority is also involved in a number of projects including electronic cargo tracking system, electronic single window system, ASY-Bank and introducing a one stop border post in order to cut delays at the customs centres.
“The good thing about these programmes is that we all have role to play,” said Faustin Kananura Mbundu, 1st Vice President of Rwanda Private Sector Federation.
Mbundu who is also the Chairman of the East African Business Council (EABC) Executive Committee said the IFC project for the EAC will help in addressing non-tariff barriers that are a major challenge for the private sector.