East Africans may soon enjoy a smooth trade flow if the Single Customs Territory (SCT) is fully rolled out. Under the arrangement, the EAC member states will adopt a destination model of goods clearance, where assessment and collection of revenue is to be done at the first point of entry. This has already started in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda after a meeting at Entebbe by the three heads of state.
It allows free circulation of goods in the single market with variations to accommodate goods exported from one partner state to another. However, customs administrations at destination states retain control over assessment of taxes. The Kenya Revenue Authority hosted a Single Customs Territory sensitization workshop in Nairobi yesterday, where participants were taken through the objectives and benefits of the territory.
“There are many benefits that SCT brings, which include reducing the cost of doing business by eliminating duplication of processes, reducing administrative costs and regulatory requirements and enhancing the relationship between private and public sectors,” said seminar facilitator Swaleh Faraj. The SCT also helps in efficient revenue management, prevention of smuggling and is a springboard for free movement of other factors of production, he added.
Once it is fully operational, the SCT is expected to speed up the movement of goods along the Northern Corridor and cut the cost of doing business in the region. The system has so far seen time taken in the clearance and transportation of fuel by Ugandan and Rwandan importers reduced by one-and-a-half days. A task force comprising experts from partner states will embark on an exercise to transform the EAC into a SCT by July and a progress report made to the Summit in November this year.
Source: The People
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