The East African Community (EAC) has adopted Rwanda’s report on the assessment of Non- Tariff Barriers (NTB) paving the way for joint actions against such barriers, the Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF) said yesterday.
The report conducted by the PSF, last year, was adopted in a meeting of stakeholders from all the five EAC member states on June 26, in Arusha, Tanzania.
The PSF said the report was endorsed by the region’s Finance Ministers during their pre-budget meetings, underscoring that NTBs were undermining EAC intra-trade and integration.
“The study report was inspired by the barriers that were being experienced by Rwanda importers and exporters along both the northern and central corridors, leading to Mombassa port,” said Emmanuel Rutagengwa Policy Analyst at PSF.
He added that the removal of non-tariff barriers would ensure compliance with the Customs Union Protocol, other legal instruments to consolidate customs union implementation.
A statement by Peter Kiguta, Director General of Customs and Trade at the EA Secretariat also stresses the need for reducing non-tariff barriers in order to prepare for the region’s Common Market which is expected to be implemented in 2010.
He says this will help the EAC to gain international competitiveness through cutting cost of doing business as well as assisting in addressing pervasive poverty in the region.
The study stresses the need for urgent reduction of non-tariff barriers along the northern and central corridors. The barriers which need agent attention were categorised into those related to physical infrastructure and policy oriented ones.
“We hope that there are barriers that will be removed immediately including policy barriers such as roadblocks, the times that goods spend at weigh bridges all these don’t need any financial cost,” Rutagengwa explained.
Rwanda stands to gain from the development since it heavily relies on northern and central corridors for her imports and exports.
Trade statistics show that three-quarters of Rwanda’s exports and imports are passed through these two corridors while only one quarter is shipped through the southern corridor.
The aim of the study was to provide an insight into the reality of what it takes to ship goods from Rwanda to the world market and identify specific bottlenecks that must be addressed if shipping costs must were lowered.
The report noted that corruption was the major challenge, especially on the northern corridor and this takes place at police roadblocks, at weighbridges and at border gates.
A total petty bribery is $193 on the Ugandan side and $703 on the Kenyan side on the export route alone while on the import route, the cost is higher amounting to $1200.
Most of the barriers that were noted by the report are under review by stakeholders including Rwanda Revenue Authority.