TradeMark East Africa, a non -for-profit organization, has said it will spend US$65 million (Rwf38.5 billion) in Rwanda in the next five years to support the country’s process for regional trade and economic integration in the East African region.
The organisation will support Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) to establish a One Single Border Post at Kagitumba, Gisenyi and Cyungugu as well as introducing an electronic single window for customs and Integrated Border Management Systems (IBMS).
In an interview with Business Times, Mark Priestley, Country Director of TradeMark, said they intend to set up a secretariat that will strengthen the process by identifying and monitoring Non Tariff Barriers (NTBs).
TradeMark will also deploy experts to identify and work towards eliminating key NTBs affecting Rwanda, which Priestley said include customs documentation and administrative procedures, quality inspection procedures, transiting procedures and police road blocks.
Currently 46 percent of the costs of imported goods are attributable to transport, he said, adding that the competitiveness of Rwanda’s exports is undermined by NTBs, most of which take place outside the country’s borders and are, therefore, beyond Rwanda’s jurisdiction.
“The challenge is that most of these NTBs are outside the country; so having a national mechanism is not the real challenge – the real challenge is how Rwanda goes about eliminating NTBs in Tanzania or Kenya,” Priestley said.
He noted that NTBs frustrate business people and translate into time loss and additional costs.
TradeMark will also support Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) to update their standardisation framework and build capacity for Standards Quality Metrology and Testing (SQMT) activities within the overall EAC standards framework.
“If you have different standards in different countries; the way they implement those standards for products can become a NTB. This will help harmonise common standards and reduce NTBs in the region,”
Priestley said the organisation is also considering setting up an NTB index for each country in the region.
“So that you can compare who’s got the most NTB’s and what progressing is being made” he added.
TradeMark will also undertake designing a national strategy for EAC integration for the Ministry of East African Community affairs.
“Our big focus is on reducing transport costs and facilitating trade but also focusing on strengthening government’s capacity to implement the EAC agenda,” he said in reference to the Customs Union, Common Market and Monetary Union.
He added that they will also engage the private sector, civil society and EAC agencies to increase awareness about regional integration.
“We will invest in raising awareness about provisions of the Common Market; it is very important to empower people about what Common Market means for them.”
It will also explore the possibility of establishing a regional trade and logistics hub to take advantage of Rwanda’s position at the nexus of the Northern and Central Corridor and neighboring DRC.
Established in 2009, TradeMark has its headquarters in Nairobi with branches in Arusha, Bujumbura, Dar es Salaam, Kampala and Kigali.