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National Monitoring Committees on NTBs
MINICOM-ITC consultative meeting to discuss the draft survey report onNon-Tariff Measures (NTMs) that affects Rwanda
 
Posted on : 08 - Aug - 2012 - Viewed : 363 times

On Thursday 12th July 2012 the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) organized a workshop at Lemigo Hotel to discuss the findings of a survey on Non-Tariff Measures encountered by Rwanda traders. The survey commissioned by ITC and conducted by DR consulting from November 2010 to May 2011.

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The workshop was opened by the Director General in charge of Trade and Investment in the Ministry of Trade and Industry. In her welcome remarks, the DG stated that the relative importance of trade barriers resulting from Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs) has risen in recent decadesin a global context of increasing economic liberalization and widespread tendency to eliminate or reduce tariffs. She also indicated that the survey is an opportunity for Rwanda to identify trade barriers related to NTMs that the Rwandan business community is facing and to take account of policy reforms and other Government interventions needed for a more conducive business environment in Rwanda and in the region.

The DG further reiterated the Government commitment to address issues related to NTMs. She mentioned that the reforms that have been done to ease doing Business in Rwanda have allowed the country to improve its ranking in the World Bank Doing Business Report over the last years. Rwanda is now ranked number 45 worldwide, the 3rd in Africa, and the 1st in EAC and the second best reform in the World.
On behalf of ITC, Mrs. PoonamMohun, stated that the aim of the workshop was to provide an interactive platform for discussion on NTMs and for sharing the results of ITC’s survey on NTMs implemented in Rwanda.

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She also mentioned that Non-tariff measures have been identified as one of the important areas of ITC’s work. NTMs are systematically reported among top three areas requiring technical assistance by policy makers, SMEs and trade support institutions.

“This reflects the increase of Non-Tariff Measures over the last years, mainly due to the increasing sophistication of markets as well as consumer demands. It also reflects the concern that Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) increasingly emerge as a consequence of NTMs, thereby diminishing the effect of progress made on the other key issues, such as tariff reduction and preferential market access” she said.

ITC believes that market access begins at home and that greater transparency around NTMs and related problems in-country allows for related domestic reform and improvements in institutions and policies and therefore in the business environment as a whole.

Non-Tariff Measures are official policy measures on export and import, other than customs tariffs that can potentially have an effect on international trade in goods (impact on price and/or quantities traded). They are also mandatory requirements, rules or regulationslegally set by the government of the exporting, importing or transit country (in contrast to private standards which are not legally set). They include technical measures, regulations on customs procedures, para-tariff measures, financial measures, prohibition, etc.

Over 500 companies were interviewed in the survey on NTMs that affect Rwanda.
NTMs cover a wide range of policies such as technical regulations, sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS), quantitative restrictions, additional charges, financial measures, certification requirements and other conformity assessments. The ITC survey not only focus on NTMs imposed by governments, but also looks at procedural obstacles (POs) that may hamper compliance with these NTMs. Delays, institutional costs, excessive paperwork and lack of testing facilities are among the most common POs. The survey also considers inefficiencies on the trade-related business environment.

The percentage of Rwandan enterprises reporting burdensome NTMs and POs was 75% in the initial phone screen interviews. Trade impediments were reported by 71% of all exporting firms and 83% of all importing firms. Exporters in the processed food and agro-based products exhibit a high ratio of firms facing trade barriers (79% of all surveyed exporting firms in this sector), followed by firms exporting fresh food and raw agro-based products sector (66%). Comparatively less affected by NTMs were exporters of other metal and other basic manufacturing (60%).

Analogous to other major agriculture exporting countries surveyed, the result is not a surprise. Agriculture products dominate Rwandan exports and destination countries closely monitor the sector. Furthermore, safety and health concerns are logically important for consumer and environmental protection. Metal and other basic manufacturing exporters factor less, but remain significantly affected by NTMs and other trade barriers.

Rwandan importers reported more barriers compared with exporters : 83% of interviewed importing firms reported trade barriers. One hundred of those interviewed in the processed food and agro-based products sector reported being affected by obstacles to trade. Comparatively less affected by NTM cases were firms importing clothing (70%).

Most of the NTMs faced by exporters are deemed imposed by partner and transit countries. Sometimes partner countries require onerous certificates proving conformity. Rwandan agencies are also reported to impose measures linked to requirements in destination countries for its exports.
The following are some of the recommendations made in the workshop :

  • Use the final report in negotiations and consultations.
  • Regular meetings between all stakeholders to allow for sustained interaction to monitor and resolve NTM problems
  • Awareness building and improved information dissemination, on initiatives governmentistaking andavailablemechanisms,
  • Come up withbenchmarking Rwanda withcommon practices in region ; gauge alsotypical time in othermarkets.
  • Whilelow or no fees in some cases on smallenterprises, examine all fees by productacross all certifyingagencies andnumber of certifications required in relation to policy and safety objectives.
  • Assesstrade and business cost impact and time lostthroughdelaysresultingfromnumerous certifications.
  • Implement the one stop shop mechanism to providetraders with all the required certifications and formsfromdifferentagencies.
  • For the Electronic single windowintroduced by MINICOM and Rwanda Revenue Authority, thereisneed for a training across Rwanda.
  • Anotherelectronicwindow for certificates to beintroduced.
  • Increaseawareness of Enquiry points.
  • Rwanda raisinglack of harmonisation of standards between the US and EU at EPA levelnegotiations.
  • Compare other NTM report findingswithlandlocked country best practices.
  • ITC assistance to smalllaboratories to support RBS.
  • Assistance to increaseawareness of private standards challenges. Addressprivate standards withprivate clients.
  • Improvefacilities and testingcapacity building uponexistingtrade facilitation initiatives.
 
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