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National Monitoring Committees on NTBs
Efforts intensified to eliminate NTBs – Rwanda keen to eliminate domestic and external NTBs.
 
Posted on : 08 - Aug - 2012 - Viewed : 144 times

The National Strategy for elimination of NTBs is having its impact

The socio-political and economic environment for NTBs continues to evolve. In September 2011, Rwanda became the first (and currently, the only) Member State in EAC COMESA and SADC to develop and adopt a National Strategy for Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers with support from TradeMark East Africa (TMEA).

The area of focus includes capacity building for the NMC, advocacy for the removal of NTBs nationally and regionally, and enhanced capacity to address NTBs outside Rwanda. The strategy is being implemented and has gain credibility inside and outside Rwanda. Indeed some partner states in EAC, COMESA and SADC have expressed their interests to learn from Rwanda the way to revamp their NMCs and the required framework to put in place their own strategies to eliminate NTBs.

TMEA supported again Rwanda to establish a National Monitoring Committee with a Secretariat based at the Ministry of Trade and Industry and hired a Coordinator of the Committee to facilitate the implantation of the strategy.

Rwanda at the forefront in the process to eliminate NTBs

Rwanda has 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 NTBs, Rwanda is engaging with EAC trading partners at a bilateral level. In January 2012, Rwanda had a bilateral meeting with Uganda on the elimination of NTBs which culminated in a signing of an MOU for elimination of NTBs and recommended a formation of a Joint committee on NTBs to oversee this implementation.

Rwanda NMC is now developing the structures for regular meetings and a way of monitoring implementation. Rwanda is also engaging with the other EAC partner states on specific NTBs. This approach was endorsed by the EAC Dedicated Ministerial Meeting on NTBs held in Mombasa in March this year.

Rwanda has been quite effective in removing a number of internal NTBs because of the good working relationship between the government and the private sector. There is greater political will and commitment from the highest level and more pressure for elimination of NTBs from both the public and the private sector which are seen as the major source of high transport cost.

For instance during the Rwanda-Uganda bilateral meeting held in Kabale, complaints were raised by Uganda about domestic NTBs imposed by Rwanda. Some of these issues are still under discussion internally but for some of them, Rwanda has been proactive to take action.

The following examples are a sign of good will from Rwanda Government and institutions to remove NTBs :

  • 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, the threshold was raised to RwF 2.5 million at Gatuna and Rusumo, RwF 3 million at Cyanika and Kagitumba, and RwF 2 million at Nemba
  • Increase in customs working hours at Gikondo-MAGERWA from 8pm to midnight with a plan to extend to 24 hours in August 2012 in response to a complaint of few customs working hours
  • The frequent verification and calibration of fuel storages at Kabuye which used to have different measurement leading to losses for trucks offloading at the storages
  • Release of trucks which were stopped at Rugenge for 5 hours (4pm-9pm) in order to prevent Kigali City from traffic jam. They are now released each 30 minutes as a trial mechanism, the permanent one being the relocation of MAGERWA to the special economic zone.
  • The regular traffic patrol at Nyabugogo to secure trucks from which goods were stolen by street thieves after the national police had destroyed their hiding places
  • Removal of all road blocks since November 2008, etc.

More commitment to empower and legalize the NMC work

The NMC lacks sufficient authority and structured accountability due to the absence of a legal framework at the national level. A key impediment to the achievement of the NMC’s mandate is the lack of formal recognition at the national level hence lack of decision-making powers. Secondly, there is no mechanism to ensure proper oversight to the NMC and accountability of its members.

To facilitate implementation of the National Strategy for Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers by the NMC, a draft cabinet paper has been prepared to formally legalize the establishment of the National Monitoring Committee on Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers and to put in place the National Steering Committee on Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers which is a new organ of the NMC which has been initiated to supplement the existing management of the NMC, the sub committees (Customs & border procedures, transport & infrastructure and, standards )

Formal establishment of both the NMC and National Steering Committee will help consolidate the gains made and position Rwanda to be a leader in the regional NTB elimination process.

Conclusion :

The development of the National Strategy for elimination of NTBs, the establishment of the NMC sub committees, the steering committee, the NMC secretariat, introduction of bilateral approach to address NTBs, the removal of domestic NTBs are a good indication and a positive sign of the commitment of the Government of Rwanda to implement the EAC customs union and common market protocols which stipulate that partner states should eliminate NTBs with immediate effect and refrain to introduce new ones in order to promote the free movement of goods, services, people and capital which are considered as key pillars of the Common Market.

The Rwanda example is a mere example that NTBs can be eliminated and a sign of commitment for a conducive business environment in the region.

 
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