The Federation of East African Freight Forwarders Association (FFEAFFA) has developed an electronic system containing information about the existing rules, procedures and documentations required by regional exporters and importers.
The e-portal is expected to cut down costs and time of doing business in the region by facilitating clearance and forwarding agents with instant and relevant documents, rules and procedures governing trade in each East African Community (EAC) country.
“EAC has endeavoured to improve intraregional trade but because there is a mountain of barriers along many corridors, trading across East African borders is still one of the worst ranked in the world,” the Minister of Trade and Industry, Francois Kanimba, said at the launch of the e-portal in Kigali on Wednesday.
He said that the e portal will provide traders with the required information without delay so that they can move their goods swiftly with lesser barriers.
Josephine Nyebaza, the second Vice President of the Association of Clearing Firms in Rwanda (ADR), said in a press briefing that the portal will become a critical point of reference for exporters and importers within the region.
“The facility will ease access to trade information and provide freight forwarders and other stakeholders with timely and relevant information on taxes, duties payable and required documentation on the trade of specific products into and out of East Africa,” she said.
Ben Kagarama, the Commissioner General of Rwanda Revenue Authority, commended FEAFFA for their initiative, citing its relevance in improving tax collection within the region.
“Traders are usually exploited by corrupt clearing agents just because they do not have information or access to it, regarding the procedures of clearing their goods. Now that the traders can access the relevant information by a click of a mouse or on their mobile phones, they will not have to pay unnecessary charges fixed by these individuals,” he said.
“In short the FEAFFA e-portal is expected to become an important tool for traders before submission of the required traders documents making them better informed about import and expert procedures in the region,” John Mathenge, the Regional Executive Officer of FEAFFA, said.
According to Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA), the body that supports EAC’s integration projects, the database will be populated and constantly updated with information to adequately serve the interests of traders.
“The single window and integrated border management will also provide systems for application of various trading licenses and submission of trade documents to the various government agencies by the clearing and forwarding agents,” Edward Ichungwa, a Senior Manager at TMEA said.
The e portal contains each country’s trading information on the clearance of selected goods, including agricultural products such as tea, coffee, cotton, as well as pharmaceutical, petroleum, machinery and plastic products.