The East African Community (EAC) Directorate of Customs and Trade has confirmed the readiness of Rwanda and Burundi to join Customs Union that commences the on the 1st of July 2009.
According to a press statement released on Wednesday by the EAC Secretariat, the Directorate undertook a mission to the two countries this month to assess the level of preparedness on the implementation of the Customs Union.
“All the government institutions and officials in charge of implementing the Customs Union, as well as the private sector that we met, were very ready for 1st July”, Peter Kiguta the Director General of Customs and Trade is quoted in the statement.
The official launch of the Customs Union protocol will take place on 6 July concurrently in the respective countries. By implementing the Common External Tariff, the tariff regime of Rwanda will be harmonised along with the other EAC Partner States.
However, the government has projected a revenue loss of Rwf. 12.2 billion as it joins the Customs Union, though the Ministry of Finance has pronounced that the loss will be compensated by the COMESA compensation fund.
According to Ambassador Juma Mwapachu, the Secretary General of the Community “launching of the EAC Customs Union in Rwanda and Burundi is a turning point for their full integration into the EAC.”
Mwapachu also underscored that while both countries have been participating in programmes of the EAC, the Customs Union is a tangible integration springboard that will accumulate into benefits for both the public and private sector.
The statement also indicates that the commencement of the Customs Union for the new entrants further enlarges the market of the region and provides an incentive for increased production and trade by the private sector.
The launching of the EAC Customs Union is a culmination of Rwanda and Burundi’s integration into the East African Community.
The Protocol on the Establishment of the East African Community Customs Union came into force on the 1st of January 2005 in the three founding Partner States; United Republic of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
The implementation of the customs union has been steady and it is expected that the region will have a single customs union territory come January 2010.
The Republics of Rwanda and Burundi signed the Accession Treaties on 1st July 2007, which expanded the EAC membership to five Partner States.