Rwanda’s hopes of clearing more goods under the East African Community Single Customs Territory (SCT) have suffered a setback after encountering a few hitches at the Dar es Salaam port in Tanzania.
September 15 was the date set for clearing of goods destined for Rwanda at the Dar port under the Single Customs Territory (SCT). ICT-related hiccups and lack of training for the agencies that facilitate clearing of goods are some of the problems stalling the SCT.
“Tanzania is not ready,” said Fred Seka, head of Rwanda Freight Forwarders Association.
This means that only petroleum products and wheat grains destined to Rwanda benefit from the SCT clearance model because their duties are assessed and paid for on arrival at the first point of entry. Rwanda had hoped to increase the list of goods to benefit from the SCT clearance model.
The failure makes the country prone to dumping of goods, especially those destined to Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo. Dumping of goods is a major threat to the survival of companies as it creates an unlevelled business environment.
But Rwanda remains hopeful that Tanzania will facilitate the full roll-out of the SCT to speed up clearance times for consignments.
“The implementation of the SCT highly depends on the second country as Rwanda is ready,” said Raphael Tugirumuremyi, the Rwanda Revenue Authority deputy Commissioner-General in charge of customs.
Traders also complain about the continued existence of non tariff barriers along the central corridor, which add to the cost of doing business.
Tanzania said it is doing everything it can to reduce the trade barriers. TradeMark Africa Rwanda project manager John Bosco Kalisa said bureaucracy at the Dar es Salaam port has been identified as the number one constraint to the seamless flow of goods and services in Tanzania.
“TradeMark Africa is urging the Tanzania ports authority and other agencies operating at the ports to sign a performance charter,” said Mr Kalisa.
“The charter will hold stakeholders at the port accountable for delays. It could also put sanctions on organisations that cause delays. “The charter could be signed in February next year,” said Mr Kalisa.
The move could drastically reduce the cost of doing business by removing some of the non-tariff barriers, by saving time that would have been spent on clearing consignments at various Customs posts.
Official figures from East African Community Secretariat show that intra-regional trade within the East African Community has grown from $2 billion in 2005 to $5.5 billion in 2013 as turnover increases and traders find it easier to trade with each other.
Rwandan traders have benefited from the SCT system along the Northern Corridor, which was started in April.
Mr Kalisa said it now takes four days to ship cargo from Mombasa to Kampala and six days from Mombasa to Kigali. It used to take 18 days from Mombasa to Kampala and 21 days from Mombasa to Kigali before the implementation of the SCT system.
The removal of NTBs such as multiple weighbridges and check points along the northern corridor have facilitated seamless flow of cargo to the hinterland.
Source: The East African
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