Lusaka, Friday, May 26, 2017: A report on a study conducted in 10 COMESA member states to establish the time taken for Customs Clearance during import and export of goods and the causes of delays has been presented to the country delegates for adoption.
The Time Release Study (TRS) was carried out in the main ports of entry and exits of Djibouti, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Sudan, Uganda and Zambia.The findings and recommendations of the study were presented to the country delegates during a two-day regional workshop in Lusaka, on 24th and 25th May 2017.
The TRS is a tool for measuring the actual performance of the customs and other border agencies in facilitating the movement of goods and services and the means of transport across borders. The study measures aspects of effectiveness of operational procedures that are carried out by customs and other regulatory border agencies concerned with processing of imports, exports and goods in transit.
The objective of the workshop was to enable member states understand the details of Customs Clearance time and adopt trade facilitation measures that will reduce the cost of trade and deepen regional integration.
Speaking at the workshop, the African Development Bank, Zambia Country representative Mr. Damoni Kitabire said many challenges face cross border trade in the region:
“Unless Africa addresses the challenges facing cross border trade, the potential from international trade will remain elusive,” he cautioned.
He urged the COMESA member states to implement trade facilitation programmes and invest in hard and soft infrastructure if the region is to gain from regional trade.
“We need to work together in implementing these reforms in the regulatory environment so as to bring down the cost and help improve the competitiveness of member countries,” he said. “Our hope is that once the final report is available, COMESA countries and the Bank will work together on implementing follow up activities to improve trade facilitation.”
He said the AfDB has allocated 60 percent of its loans and grants to hard infrastructure projects, but more needs to be done in order to bring down the cost of doing business further.
Some of these projects include the construction of transport and border infrastructure, establishment of One Stop Border Posts, support to the EAC-COMESA-SADC tripartite capacity building programme and the implementation of governance reforms in regional member countries.
Secretary-General Sindiso Ngwenya said COMESA has adopted several trade facilitation instruments aimed at improving trade and reducing the cost of doing business.
They include; the Harmonized Road Transit Charges, COMESA Carrier’s License, Harmonized Axle Loading and Maximum Vehicle Dimensions, COMESA Yellow Card Scheme, COMESA Customs Transit Bond Guarantee Scheme, Advance Cargo Information System and One Stop Border Posts.
His speech was presented by the Customs Expert Mr. Zerezghi Kidane.
The recommendations of the workshop will be incorporated in the 2018-2020 COMESA Customs Work Program for the Trade and Customs sub-Committee.