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The Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda have launched the COMESA Simplified Trade Regime (STR) which will allow small scale traders to import products not exceeding the value of $2,000 duty free.

This follows the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding by Rwanda Minister of Trade and Industry Hon. François Kanimba and his DR Congo counterpart Hon. Nefertiti Ngudianza Bayokisa Kisula in Rubavu District near the Goma/Rubavu border on 20 October 2016.

The signing followed bilateral meetings organized by COMESA Secretariat in partnership with the African Development Bank and the European Union in July 2015 to agree on a Common List of products. In addition, DRC has concluded similar discussions with Burundi, Uganda and Zambia. DRC will soon sign STRs with the mentioned countries.

The STR programme was initiated by COMESA to help increase trade among small scale cross border traders dealing in small quantities of goods. This programme aims to simplify clearing procedures as well as reduce the cost of trading by making it possible for the small scale cross-border traders consignments to benefit from the removal of customs Duty (COMESA Preferential Treatment) if they are on the Common Lists.

In the agreement, Rwanda and DRC have agreed on a list of 168 commodities that will be exonerated from import duties not exceeding $2,000.