In a bid to strengthen and modernize customs agencies in the East African Community, customs officials from EAC, on Tuesday, agreed to adopt standard operational procedures that will improve customs institutional structures and processes.
This was during the 6th World Customs Organization (WCO) – EAC Customs Modernization Project Steering Committee meeting in Kigali on Tuesday.
The Deputy Commissioner General and Commissioner for Customs in RRA, Eugene Torero, said in an interview that the move would facilitate trade within the EAC as well as empower regional private companies.
“We are now at the critical stage of implementing what we agreed upon, and by the beginning of next year, we should be able to see the benefits of standardizing customs operational guidelines,” Torero said.
The Director of Capacity Building at WCO, Lars Karlsson, said the EAC is only the second regional bloc, after the European Union, to implement standard operational procedures within their customs organizations.
“The agreement will have a great impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of EA trade and transboundary engagements, in terms of controlling the flow of goods and safeguarding customs,” Karlsson said.
The customs officials proposed four pilot sites where the procedures will be implemented to assess their impact, which include; Kobero, Malaba, Katuna and Rusumo borders.
The regional approach to the modernization of customs administrations originated from the recommendations made by EAC Director Generals of Customs, during a workshop held in Arusha in 2007.