RE: “CFTA: What next after signing of historic treaty?” (The New Times, March 23).
Indeed a very good question! What’s next for Rwanda? What’s next for our private sector? The private sector is the critical success factor to ensure such an agreement will benefit the country in real tangible ways and not just on paper.
Recently, RDB awarded business excellence top exporter of the year to Rwanda Mountain Tea. South Africa and Mauritania are Africa’s top tea drinking countries. Assuming the two countries signed onto the CFTA, how does Rwanda Mountain Tea penetrate and export their tea to those countries, earning the country much needed forex as part of the consolidated free trade area?
The implementation institutional framework is now with Ministry of Trade and Industry (Minicom). Minicom has a national monitoring committee on elimination of non-tariff barriers.
This committee is made up of government bodies, Private Sector Federation, transport associations, exporters and importers. Key participation in the government bodies includes Rwanda Standards Board, Rwanda Revenue Authority, Rwanda Development Board, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Agriculture Export Board, Rwanda Agriculture Board and Minagri.
The government institutions are key to bring about much needed coordinated implementation of the CFTA in the country.
The monitoring committee ideally would constitute some technical working groups to discuss key issues on the CFTA and they would include: Legal and institutional affairs, rules of origin, standards, customs and border posts procedures etc.
In addition, there should be a steering committee for the NTBs that will be made up of the heads of institution, ministers to help unlock any key barriers to implementation of the national strategy to NTBs and make it easier to integrate the changes in the national laws and policies.
It’s a long road ahead, but as President Kagame often says, we need to have a sense of urgency as, where others walked, Africa has to run to catch up.
I wish to take this opportunity to pass my sincere appreciation to the ‘silent and background army’ behind the successful hosting of the AU summit, a team that spent many a sleepless night to ensure a successful conference.