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Twenty Trade Information Desk Officers that were recruited recently to facilitate small cross border trade between Eastern D R Congo and the neighboring countries of Rwanda and Uganda are participating in a two days capacity building workshop at the COMESA Secretariat in Lusaka, Zambia.

The training is part of the implementation of the Great Lakes Trade Facilitation Project (GLTFP) supported by the World Bank. It covers three border points between DR Congo and Uganda and two between DR Congo and Rwanda.

The training is intended to enhance the capacity of the TIDOs to effectively deliver on their duties and responsibilities of serving the small scale cross border traders, majority of whom are women. In addition, it is a platform for sharing experiences by various stakeholders in the implementation of the COMESA Simplified Trade Regime (STR) at the project border posts.

The training will also serve as a forum for creating awareness on the Regulations on the minimum standards for the treatment of small scale cross border traders and the role Trade Information Desk Officers in facilitating small scale cross border trade at the borders.

“As people on the ground, you are a very important link between the Secretariat and the communities that we are serving,” said the Director of Trade and Customs, Dr. Francis Mangeni in a speech presented by Senior Trade Officer, Tasara Muzorori during the official opening of the training.

He added: “I expect you to be constantly aware of developments in the region and issues affecting small scale traders so that together we can deal with them in our joint efforts to facilitate trade.”

He asked the TIDOs to focus on how to assist the small-scale cross-border traders conduct their businesses in dignity, free of the impediments they often experience as informal business people.

The training builds on the induction training held in Rwanda in June 2017 and will provide in-depth information on the STR, gender, reporting of project activities, negotiation skills and basic conflict resolution.