BY MANSUR KAKIMBA
A team of experts from the Private Sector Federation (PSF) of Rwanda are on weeklong mission to gather information on trade barriers along the central corridor stretching from Kigali to Dar el Salaam.
They are looking for information about Non-Tarriff barriers. These are reported to be hindrance to free movement of goods other than the legitimate charges like taxes and fees.
The Director of Trade and Integration at the PSF, John Bosco Kalisa, led the mission. The team set off Sunday. Its is scheduled drive all the way to the coast and back. The trip is meant to help them witness hardships that both importers and exporters meet at border posts along the way.
Other members on the team are John Bosco Kanyangoga, the PSF Director in Charge of Policy Advocacy and Institution Relations. Kalisa said the team would conduct a series of interviews with businessmen, truck drivers and various Rwanda and Tanzania government institutions. The trip is a continuation of a similar one done last June along the northern corridor—Kigali to Mombassa.
“We intend to use both surveys to file a comprehensive report on NTBs by end of this month (August) that we shall use at appropriate forums soon to seek sustainable solutions,” said Kalisa.
He said businessmen, especially importers and exporters have persistently reported various NTBs to the PSF Secretariat, “but concerned authorities in EAC member states do not take heed.”
The bi-annual Northern Corridor Consultative Forum brings together stakeholders like Revenue Authorities, infrastructure ministries, Clearing and Forwarding associations, Shippers’ Councils, Northern Corridor Secretariat and Mombassa Port Authority to discuss trade issues. The most recent meeting was held in Nairobi. Kalisa confirmed the next forum would be held in October in Kigali. “We shall have the opportunity to engage stakeholders on NTBs at the forum.” He also said the annual central corridor consultative forum is another platform to table NTBs. Further, serious negotiations with the EAC customs union start next month. Kalisa says the PSF will again have another opportunity to present the report on NTBs.
“Dar el Salaam port is nearer to Kigali compared to Mombassa. But traders prefer using Mombassa because of poorer roads along the central corridor,” said Kalisa. Mombassa handles most cargo to Rwanda. Dar el salaam handles only about 40 per cent.
Spatial Development Initiative
The governments of Rwanda and Tanzania are working on a parallel initiative dubbed Spatial Development Initiative (SDI) which seeks to enhance better trade along the central corridor. South Africa supports the project, and it is being pursued by the Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD). Sources indicate that BRD is working on modalities to explore key economic opportunities involved such as export development, energy, ICT, Tourism and agriculture development.
ADB pumps Frw81m
The Africa Development Bank (ADB) has extended $1.5 million (about Frw81million) to the Central Corridor Secretariat to conduct studies on how to strengthen trade along the corridor. An agreement to ratify the Central Corridor Transit Transport Facilitation Authority (CCTFA) will be signed August 10 in Dar el Salaam. The PSF is involved in bringing stakeholders together to ratify the agreement.
The Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) has also received support from World Bank under the East Africa Trade and Transport Project to install scanners at border posts to expedite clearing procedures. With the use of a scanner, commodities indicated on invoice are verified without opening seals of container for physical checks.
According to the information gathered for the report so far, there are many NTB’S along the northern corridor. There is a lot of documentation, roadblocks in Kenya, delays related to border customs clearances, too many compulsory parking yards, poor roads, double bond charges, and high damage charges. Kalisa believes interfacing Asycuda++ of Rwanda and Uganda at Gatuna border post, like it has been done with Simba 2005 of Kenya and Asycuda++ of Uganda will expedite declaration.
He said the report will also include a survey on Magerwa, the national bonded warehouse NTBs. “Businesspeople have complained about compulsory diversion of trucks to Burundi because of lack of parking yards along the main route,” he said. He was however quick to add that RRA and Magerwa are working a parking yard somewhere along Nyabugogo-Butare road. “Delays at Magerwa according to reports have now reduced from 14days to only 3days because they use Asycuda++ declaration software,” said Kalisa.
Recently, standard 4 per cent handling fee at Magerwa which used to bother importers was scrapped. Now cargo is charged basing on weight and size. The achievement was after series of heated debates between the PSF and the government.