PUBLISHED ON November 24th, 2014

Forthcoming regional forum could resolve NTBs dispute

Rwanda and Tanzania are expected to resolve dispute over park levies in the forthcoming East African Community Regional Forum on elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers slated for next month.

Transporters in Rwanda say the levies by the Tanzanian authorities violate the Customs Union and Common Market Protocol.

The contested levies include $300 Rwandan trucks are charged for crossing Saadani National Park when they go to load salt at Sea Salt Factory in Saadani and $6 as gate pass fee.

Tanzanian transporters on the other hand are required to pay only $40 while entering the park, Bagamoyo, Pangani and Zanzibar triangle.

Rwandan transporters complain that the disparity eats into the small margins they earn.

The subsidies and protectionism the Tanzanian transporters enjoy have made them dominant in the transportation business in Rwanda.

The dominance of Tanzanian transporters is reflected in a recent study by the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The report, released in September this year indicates that Rwanda spends $355 million on foreign transport and logistics services annually but much of this money benefits foreign registered transport firms.

“The East African Community Ministry made investigations and discovered that $300 is charged on Rwandan trucks crossing Saadani National Park to load salt at Sea Salt Factory located in Saadani and $6 as gate pass fee,” Valentine Rugwabiza, EAC minister told a meeting of traders at Hotel Mille Collines recently.

“We already have evidence and we are going to raise it with the government of Tanzania in the forthcoming 16th regional forum on elimination of NTBs scheduled for December,” Ms Rugwabiza.

Ms Rugwabiza is pushing for harmonisation of the national park levies to protect Rwandan transporters. But private sector is pushing the government to also charge Tanzanian transporters $300.

Last year when Tanzanian authorities were reluctant to reduce the road toll fees from $500, Rwanda raised the fee to make it uniform. This forced Tanzanian transporters exert pressure on their government to reduce the road toll charges.

“We have a difficult neighbour,” said Davis Karera, a member of the Rwanda Private Sector Federation.

“We should play tit-for-tat game,” he proposed.

“That is the language Tanzania understands, he told a meeting organised by the Ministry of East African Affairs for the business community.

Mr Karera who also vice chairman of East African Business Council, suggested that the Tanzanian transporters should also be charged $300 when they enter Akagera National Park near Rusumo border post.

The game park levy is among the 22 non-tariff barriers Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania have maintained as of September this year, despite repeated calls to have them removed.

Reports from national NTB monitoring committee also shows that eight new NTBs were recorded by September this year, signalling that the states are still reluctant to open up their economies for free trade.

Tanzania still has the highest number of NTBs at 26 per cent followed by Kenya with 24 per cent and Uganda 22 per cent.

Source: The East African

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