Capacity Building Programme for Border Trade Officials Underway

A training programme to build the capacity of trade information desk officers stationed at selected border posts is underway. The objective is to integrate them in border operations and enhance their working relationship with State agencies manning border posts.

The Trade Information Desk Officers (TIDOs) are stationed in selected borders in the COMESA region primarily to provide trade facilitation services and smooth implementation of small scale cross border trade.

On Tuesday 23 February 2021, TIDOs from the following border posts; Chirundu (Zambia/Zimbabwe), Kasumbalesa (DR Congo/Zambia, Mwami/Mchinji (Malawi/Zambia) and Nakonde (Zambia/Tanzania) went through a virtual training on the provisions and implementation of the COMESA Simplified Trade Regime (STR). The STR provides for small-scale traders to qualify for duty-free entry for certain goods and for a more simple and reduced set of documentary requirements to cross the border.

The training is part of the implementation of a €15 Million European Union funded programme known as the  Small Scale Cross Border Trade Initiative (SSCBTI) in the selected borders. COMESA, together with the International Organisation for Migration and the International Trade Centre is implementing the Cross-Border Trade Initiative.

The aim of the SSCBTI is to increase formal small scale cross border trade flows in the COMESA/Tripartite region leading to higher revenue collection by governments as well as increased security and higher incomes for small scale cross border traders.

During the training, the TIDOs were taken through trade procedures for clearing goods under the STR threshold and the Regulations on the Minimum Standards for the Treatment of Small-Scale Cross Border Traders. The training also provided insights on the cross-border data collection activities.

Addressing the TIDOs during the opening of the training, the Secretary General of COMESA, Chileshe Kapwepwe said it will ensure they are equipped with skills to interact better with border officials, cross border trade associations and coordinating ministries’ staff.

TIDOs are the face of the programme at the borders and it is essential that the they display good demeanor, integrity and courtesy in their interaction with both traders and border officials as well as researchers that frequent the borders gathering primary data,” she said. “It is also important for the TIDOs to keep abreast with policy and administrative changes that affect small scale traders in order to provide value added information.”

The trainers were customs and immigration officers.