The advent of the Single Customs Territory is a major step towards rebooting intra-regional trade and implementing the East African Common Market.
Already, importers from landlocked countries using the ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam have started reaping the benefits due to the short time taken to transport goods to various destinations.
For instance, the pilot project reveals that transit cargo, which used to take 22 days on the road from Mombasa via Kampala to Kigali, now takes just six days, enabling the business community to save on operational costs and guarantee steady supplies to Kigali.
It is good news for Rwanda, which will be saving an estimated $98 million annually as the cost of transporting a single container drops by 32 per cent.
Taxes are now paid at the point of entry and remitted to countries of destination, eliminating much of the red tape that has been such a major barrier to free flow of goods and intra-regional trade.
However, countries in the region have failed to meet the deadline of a fully operational Single Custom Territory by July 1, mainly due to bureaucracy and hitches with technology. This means the Single Customs Territory will be implemented in phases.
We want to see a fully functional Customs Union and partner states that are still clinging to sovereignty should let go as a matter of urgency.
They need to eliminate all duties, restrictive regulations and internal border Customs controls between partner states to allow the free movement of labour, goods and services.
Source: The East Africa
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