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National Monitoring Committees on NTBs
Posted on : 23 - Jul - 2012 - Viewed : 1180 times

Below are the Frequently asked questions about the NMC and it’s activities, Please feel free to submit any idea or question that you cannot find answers for.

You submit your question by following this link.

1. What is the National Monitoring Committee (NMC) mandated to do ?

The NMC derives its mandate from Article 13 of the Protocol on the Establishment of the East African Community (EAC) Customs Union (2004) in which the EAC Partner States agreed to immediately remove “all the existing non-tariff barriers to the importation into their respective territories of goods originating in the other Partner States and, thereafter, not to impose any new non-tariff barriers.” The same article provided for each Partner State to formulate “a mechanism for identifying and monitoring the removal of non-tariff barriers.” Therefore in a nutshell, the mandate of the NMC is the identification, monitoring and removal of Non-Tariff Barriers.

2.How is this being achieved in Rwanda ?

As you are aware, Rwanda formally joined the EAC in July 2007, so the NMC here was only set up in 2008. Initially, we had majority representation from the public sector, but last year we brought in more members from the private sector to make the representation more balanced. We developed a National Strategy for Elimination of NTB’s late last year, and now we are in the process of implementing it. Our areas of focus include capacity building for the NMC, advocacy for the removal of NTB’s nationally and regionally, and enhanced capacity to address NTB’s outside Rwanda.

3.Give us a brief of the non-tariff barriers situation in Rwanda ?

We have been generally proactive in addressing any NTB’s that have been identified in Rwanda. In this regard, we have heard complaints on the manner in which Rwanda charges road user charges (a flat fee for each category of passenger motor vehicles, trucks and trailers), value thresholds on goods that can be cleared at the borders, and delays in issuance of phyto-sanitary certificates by the Ministry of Agriculture. Some of these issues are still under discussion internally and with our trade counterparts, but for some of them, we have been proactive to take action. For example, the customs value threshold for goods to be cleared at Gatuna was 1 million Rwandan Francs until January this year. Following complaints from importers on the expenses and inconvenience of clearing goods at MAGERWA within Kigali, we have now raised this threshold to RwF 2.5 million at Gatuna and Rusumo, RwF 3 million at Cyanika and Kagitumba, and RwF 2 million at Nemba.

4. Of the eight categories of NTBs, which ones have affected Rwanda the most ?

[Need to clarify what 8 categories are being referred to here] For Rwanda, NTB’s associated with movement of goods along the Northern Corridor (to and from Mombasa) and the Central Corridor (to and from Dar es Salaam) affect us most. These range from the quality of the road infrastructure, numerous weighbridges, border delays, insecurity and corruption. These issues are well documented, especially on the Northern Corridor. Partner States need to demonstrate more political will to eliminate the NTB’s for the EAC Partner States to enjoy greater prosperity.

5. How are the NTBs impacted on business in and outside of Rwanda ?

We are now operating in the EAC Common Market which came into force on 1st July 2010. The Common Market Protocol provides for the “Four Freedoms” namely free movement of goods ; labour ; services and capital. Non-tariff barriers increase the cost of doing business in Rwanda, as the landed cost of goods is significantly higher than what obtains in other countries – especially our key export markets. Raw materials are very expensive for us due to high inland transportation costs, and our exports are not as competitive because it is so difficult getting the goods to the port. We should now see EAC as a single investment destination and market for goods from the region. However, some preventable NTB’s like non-recognition of EAC Certificates of Origin for goods produced within the Partner States make it difficult for goods to enter and compete in some markets. We can only unlock the entrepreneurial potential of regional business by eliminating these Non-Tariff Barriers.

6.What steps are you taking towards the elimination of NTBs and what is the situation on the ground in the implementation ?

We have established a National Monitoring Committee with a Secretariat based at the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The focus of the NMC is on the elimination of both domestic and regional NTB’s. We have very fruitful collaboration with the private sector, specifically the Private Sector Federation so any issues are attended to as quickly as possible. In January, we had a bilateral meeting with Uganda on the elimination of NTB’s. They raised a number of issues on the problems Ugandan business people have in Uganda. These issues have been dealt with, though some require more investment in the long term – for example increasing the capacity of petroleum storage facilities which will have an impact on the price of petroleum products. I think the important thing is to remain engaged and address issues as they arise, or even better, nip issues in the bud before they become problems. We are meeting again with Uganda in the next few weeks to evaluate progress in the removal of the NTB’s we had identified in January.

7.What kind of support are you receiving as NMC from the Line Ministries in efforts to eliminate NTBs ?

Very good support – as indicated, the Ministry of Trade and Industry is hosting the NMC Secretariat. We really don’t see NTB’s as a government problem or a private sector problem : it’s a Rwanda and regional problem because it affects our competitiveness as a country and as a region. So we stress the value of partnerships. The line ministries such as the Ministry for East African Cooperation, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Ministry of Agriculture among others participate actively, as does the private sector. We appreciate the immense support we get from the ministries.

8.And at the Ministry of Trade, what measures have instituted towards the elimination of NTBs ?

We have adopted a proactive strategy on the elimination of NTB’s using the NMC as a focal point for reporting and coordination of implementation of measures towards elimination. For cross-border NTB’s, we are engaging with our EAC trading partners at a bilateral level. We started with Uganda in January, and we are now developing the structures for regular meetings and a way of monitoring implementation. We are also engaging with the other EAC partners on specific issues. This approach was endorsed by the EAC Dedicated Ministerial Meeting on NTB’s held in Mombasa in March this year.

9.What has been the impact of eliminating some of these NTBs ?

After simplifying legislation and procedures on registration of businesses, we have seen an increase in the number of registered businesses in the last few years. We have created a public service with high levels of integrity, and as a consequence we have seen increased investments – people are taking advantage of the reduced cost of doing business and our high levels of transparency. Even more important, we have enhanced our credibility as a country to our trading partners. Of course, many challenges still remain such as improving our transport infrastructure and access to electricity, but we are hopeful that the future is bright as we continue implementing these measures.

10. Why do you think the existing NTBs continue to prevail ?

We are on a steep learning curve. At first, there was suspicion that economic integration in East Africa would lead to loss of jobs, revenue and investments in some countries. Due to these suspicions and for other practical reasons, implementation of the Protocols on the Customs Union and the Common Market has been slow. But integration is moving forward and not backward as the deliberations on the establishment of a Single Customs Territory in East Africa show. There is greater political will from the highest levels and more pressure for elimination of the NTB’s from the organized private sector in the region. Eventually, many of the persisting NTB’s will be eliminated, but we must be vigilant against the introduction of new ones.

11.To which extent do you think the existing monitoring mechanisms have been effective ?

I think the effectiveness has been varied. For us in Rwanda, we have been quite effective in removing a number of internal NTB’s because of the good working relationships we have between the government and the private sector. There is also a regional monitoring mechanism – in fact the East African Time-Bound Programme on Elimination of NTB’s was developed by the Regional Forum on Elimination of NTB’s. The question that we are now asking ourselves is : how come new NTB’s keep cropping up ? What powers does the EAC have to enforce commitments made at the regional level ? Again establishing a regional legal framework for cooperation in the implementation of the Treaty and the Protocols takes time, but we are moving in the right direction.


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