Border Efficiency Tops Agenda for DR Congo and Zambia

The COMESA Secretariat has committed to support the improvement of key transboundary initiatives to improve efficiency at the Kasumbalesa border point between D R Congo and Zambia. Over the years, this border point has experienced efficiency challenges related to movement of cargo and now the two governments are actively engaged to finding a lasting solution under a Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) framework.

Recently, a Congolese delegation led by the Vice-President of the Congo Business Federation (FEC) Mr. Dieudonne Kasembo, and officials from the Congo Revenue Authority, conducted a visit to Lusaka for a bilateral intergovernmental meeting with Zambia that focused on trade facilitation issues at the Kasumbalesa border.

On the sidelines of this meeting, the DR Congo team met with COMESA officials led by the Assistant Secretary General in Charge of Administration and Finance, Dr Dev Haman who assured them of COMESA support to further dialogue towards sustainable solutions and seamless trade between the between the two countries, and the rest of the region.

Mr. Kasembo highlighted the negative impact that the challenges at the border presented to business sustainability, fair competition and the effective functioning of the two countries’ markets. He affirmed his country’s commitment to work with the Government of Zambia through COMESA to address the trade facilitation  challenges at the Kasumbalesa border post.

The other challenges discussed related to the offloading of transit cargo at the border, transshipment of goods and other customs management issues, the status of implementation of the electronic cargo tracking systems at the national and regional level, and the upcoming support from COMESA, towards the One Stop Border Post operations at the Kasumbalesa border.

On the sidelines of intergovernmental meetings, the private sector came together to prepare their advocacy position report on the above business costs and recommend  industry-based solutions. The COMESA Business Council (CBC) chaired the Private Dialogue between the business and logistics associations of DRC and Zambia, to identify specific border business costs and recommend improvement on border relations on trade facilitation between the two countries.

During the meeting, CBC Chief Executive officer, Ms. Sandra Uwera expressed the need for involvement of the private sector in the implementation of electronic cargo tracking systems and other digital trade facilitation tools at the national level, as they are the end users and beneficiaries of such systems.

Some of the key industry recommendations submitted to the bilateral meetings was strengthening border patrol and enforcement to ensure adherence to legal frameworks regarding the transshipment of goods and to curb customs fraud and the illegal breaking of transit goods at the border.

The meeting also recommended that there be amplified Customs interface to enable sharing of information and uniform processing across the region as well as strengthening the One Stop Border Post at Kasumbalesa border.

It was also recommended that there be effective management of border markets through defining lists of products for small scale trade excluding commercial goods and that a mechanism be developed to strengthen the protection of drivers and transporters within the DRC.

Further, a regional approach should be applied in the implementation of electronic tracking systems to ensure cross border synergies in traceability, to safeguard against transit fraud and unlawful breaking of transit goods.

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