4 November 2012

East Africa: Eliminating Barriers Key to EAC Integration

Photo: East African
Trucks transport goods (file photo): The government of Japan financed the project through a grant scheme for both countries.


Last week, local traders using the Rusumo border post urged Tanzanian customs authorities to work towards eliminating trade barriers - in line with the East African Community (EAC) common market protocol.

The call by Rwandan traders is in line with what is needed to ensure full integration of the East African Community.

Cross border traders from Rwanda find difficulty accessing the Simplified Certificates of Origin, issued by Customs departments from where the goods originate.

In Tanzania, instead of accessing the certificates from the border as per the agreed upon protocols, it is issued by higher authorities.

Consequently, Rwandan traders continue to spend a lot of money and time to get the certificate of origin that confirm that the merchandise is indeed from an EAC member state to allow them to conduct business without customs tariffs.

This reduces their profit margins.

Recently, the minister of Trade and Industry signed a bilateral agreement with his Tanzania counterpart, where the crucial decision to boost cross border trade by eliminating trade barriers was agreed.

This agreement should help create a favorable business environment to facilitate trade.

With the EAC Week underway in Rwanda, stake holders should take time to reflect on the agreed protocols, evaluating what can be done to eliminate the huddles faced by the traders.

While regional countries are all sovereign states and within certain rights of levying certain charges, EA protocols that commit member states to lifting barriers to trade must be respected.

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