Inefficient border procedures cost African nations dearly: experts

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ARUSHA – Inefficient border procedures are said to cost some African countries 5 percent of their revenue, experts revealed on Wednesday.

James Kisaale, Assistant Commissioner with the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), told a Roundtable Conference held in Arusha on Trade Facilitation, that revenue losses stemming from inefficient border procedures in some countries were now exceeding five percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Citing a 2013 study by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the URA official added that reducing global trade costs by 1 percent would increase worldwide income by more than 40 billion U.S. dollars, with developing countries being the biggest beneficiaries.

“Areas that would contribute the most to lower trade costs in Sub-Saharan Africa were formalities, namely automation, the simplification and harmonization of documents, and information availability,” said Kisaale, while addressing the one-day roundtable.

Kenneth Bagamuhunda, EAC Director General in charge with Customs and Trade, observed that Trade Facilitation was an integral part of the EAC Customs Union Protocol which explicitly provides for reduction in the number and volume of trade documents.

Bagamuhunda noted that Trade Facilitation Agreement also provided for the adoption of common standards of trade documentation and procedures, coordination and facilitation of trade and transport activities.

“There is also the reviewing of procedures adopted in international trade and transport facilitation with a view to simplifying and adopting them for use in the EAC,” he said.

Bagamuhunda further disclosed that an EAC Trade and Facilitation Sub-Committee had been established to supervise the implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) at regional and national levels.

“Amendments of regional laws, regulations and procedures, development of project proposals for resource mobilization, and sensitization of stakeholders is currently underway,” added the director general.

According to Bagamuhunda, Single Customs Territory (SCT) and the inter-connectivity of customs systems were among some of key TFA components to have been implemented by the EAC.

Organized by the EAC Secretariat, the one-day roundtable on trade facilitation brought together EAC Development Partners as well as Customs and Trade experts from the EAC Secretariat and Partner States’ Ministries of Trade to review and fast-track the implementation of the WTO TFA.

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