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National Monitoring Committees on NTBs
On validation of the national strategy and plan for the elimination of non tariff barriers.
Posted on : 03 - Aug - 2012 - Viewed : 62 times

On 20th September, 2011 the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Private Sector Federation in partnership with Trade Mark East Africa, a multi-donor funded agency set up to promote regional trade and economic integration in East Africa, hosted a high level validation workshop of the “National Strategy for Eliminating Non-Tariff Barriers’”.

This was attended by 70 participants coming from the private sector, such as Sorwathe, Bralirwa, and Association of Transporters, and from government, Ministry of East African Community, Rwandan Revenue Authority, Rwandan Bureau of Standards, Immigration and Police. .

Based on evidence from various studies conducted in the last two years, it is clear that the cost of NTBs for EAC countries runs into tens of millions of dollars. Within this community the landlocked countries such as Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi carry the greatest cost of NTBs due to distance from the main ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam, bad road infrastructure, delays at border crossings and lack of harmonized import and export standards and procedures. As a result the cost of imports of one container in Rwanda, for example, is more than 3.5 times higher than in Tanzania and 2.5 times higher than in Kenya. The consequence of these mainly external factors is that Rwanda, although one of the countries with the highest improvement in overall ranking in 2011 in the WB Doing Business survey, in terms of Trading Across Borders component ranks only 159th.

To address the problem of NTBs the EAC Protocol envisaged the establishment of the National Monitoring Committees on NTBs (NMCs) as a national mechanism for monitoring and coordination of NTB elimination. However, the functioning of these committees has not been very effective in either the national or regional context and the list of the main NTBs registered in the ‘Time Bound Programme for Elimination of NTBs’ has not recorded much progress since Rwanda joined the EAC in 2007. A core part of this strategy therefore aims to revive the NMC to become an effective body to address various NTBs.

The main reasons for the lack of progress in the NMCs’ work have been the lack of authority, coordination structure and resources, lack of analytical capacity to address priority NTBs in a meaningful way, insufficient representation and contribution of the private sector to its operations, insufficient regional cooperation between the NMCs and lack of a strategic planning approach to monitoring and elimination of NTBs.
The goal of this Strategy is to reverse this situation by significantly strengthening the Rwanda NMC’s operations, enabling it to become the driving force of the NTB elimination process at national and regional level.

The Strategy is built around three strategic outcomes, each addressing important capacity issues and processes in the monitoring and elimination of NTBs using different advocacy channels both regionally and nationally.