THE machinery for facilitating trade and free movement of goods in the East African Community (EAC) has been set up and personnel at 13 one stop border posts (OSBPs) have been trained.
According to EAC revenue authorities, the Single Customs Territory (SCT) has made great strides since its implementation in July 2014 and that all imports are cleared under the Single Customs Territory Framework (SCTF) and clearance time has significantly reduced for both the Ports and Customs.
Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Commissioner General John Njiraini, who briefed the media on behalf of his colleagues, noted that the operationalisation and training of personnel at the OSBPs had significantly reduced the time taken by travellers and trucks at the borders from days to about 1.5-30 minutes on average respectively.
The EAC with support from TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) is finalising the Malaba OSBP on the Kenya-Uganda border at $7.5m.
"We recognise that trade is global. Therefore, as much as we smoothen the flow of trade within the EAC, we intend to ensure the flow out and into EAC boundaries with neighbouring countries is smoothened... so far, all imports are cleared under the SCTF and clearance time has significantly reduced for both the Ports and Customs. Currently, the region is piloting exports under the Single Customs Territory," said Mr Njiraini.
He was speaking after a two-day meeting of the EAC Committee on Customs at the EAC headquarters. The meeting drew commissioners general and commissioners of Customs in the EAC Partner States.
Mr Njiraini was flanked by, among others, Commissioner General Charles Kichere (Tanzania Revenue Authority), Mr Dickson Kateshumbwa (Acting Commissioner General, Uganda Revenue Authority), and Mr Kenneth Bagamuhunda, Director General, Customs and Trade at the EAC Secretariat.
The Kenyan commissioner general said TMEA had supported the construction of OSBPs at Elegu/Nimule (Uganda/South Sudan Border), Tunduma/Nakonde (Tanzania/Zambia) and Moyale (Kenya/Ethiopia).
Mr Njiraini disclosed that to resolve the problem of lack of information to business, trade information portals (TIPs) had been installed in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.
"Tanzania is in the process of establishing a trade portal. The TIPs will also be installed at a later stage in Burundi and South Sudan. We urge businesspeople to start using these tools and propose how procedures can be simplified. They will be developed as a regional trade facilitation index given its ability to facilitate decision making and implementation of trade reforms," he noted.
The rollout of the export regime under SCT commenced on July 20, this year on a pilot basis, involving the clearance of selected export goods through the Northern Corridor and Port of Mombasa. As of October 22, the Uganda Revenue Authority, Rwanda Revenue Authority, Kenya Revenue Authority and Kenya Ports Authority were already involved in the implementation of pilot SCT exports.