Rwanda’s customs could become more competitive in the region following an agreement signed between Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) and the Rwanda Freight Forwarders Association (ADR).
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed on Monday in Kigali, seeks to set up a framework of co-operation between RRA, Customs and Rwanda Clearing and Freight Forwarders Association to facilitate trade in accordance with the existing laws, Richard Tusabe, RRA Commissioner General, said.
It will also ensure that fiscal fraud is combated through collaboration between customs and clearing agents and help enhance capacity building of the agents through coordinated training programmes, according to Tusabe.
“The MoU is timely. It is important that we all work together toward boosting our competitiveness in the global arena,” Tusabe said.
The agreement will also help sector players share information on fraud, smuggling and other related matters, and lay a foundation for managing business risks incurred by clearing agents.
It also seeks to promote community awareness against smuggling of goods and illegal trade.
According to Fred Seka, chairman, Clearing and Freight Forwarders, the MoU will streamline service delivery and ease information dissemination on clearing, taxation and customs matters.
“Recognising the need to cooperate more closely in the interest of safeguarding government revenue, facilitating legitimate trade and reducing business transaction costs, preventing the illegal entry of restricted and prohibited goods, is critical for national development. We are, therefore, optimistic that the agreement will help in the realisation of this objective,” Seka said.
He said there is need to appreciate the role played by businesses and freight forwarding providers in the implementation of international trade safety standards.
The agreement is in line with provisions of the East African Customs Management Act and regulations which emphasises the operations of customs and clearing agents.
Gerald Mukubu, the acting Chief Executive Officer Private Sector Federation (PSF), urged clearing agents to work toward professionalising their practice.
“It will help foster PSF’s contribution toward national development through professional business conduct. It’s, therefore, important that you devise an action plan which will help guide how the agreement will be implemented and monitored,” Mukubu said.
Under Article 4 of the agreement, the obligations of Rwanda Clearing and Freight Forwarders Association shall include; provision of assistance to Customs in investigating customs offenses, advising customs on all suspected sources of smuggled goods including supply chains based on specific intelligence and trend analysis and reporting indiscipline cases of clearing and forwarding agents or individual clearing agents for appropriate disciplinary action, among others.
The two parties will set up a mechanism of permanent dialogue on service delivery challenges and how they should be addressed for better service delivery.
The agreement will remain in force until the parties agree to its termination by mutual consent which shall not prejudicially affect the operations already in force under its provisions.
There are 159 clearing agents in Rwanda poised to benefit from regional integration.
ADR is a non-profit organisation established in 1998 to represent all the clearing and forwarding firms in Rwanda.