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National Monitoring Committees on NTBs
Posted on : 18 - Apr - 2013 - Viewed : 81 times
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NTBs increase the cost of doing cross-border business and reduce the gains from trade by restricting domestic market access to regional exporters and importers. They include any regulations, policies, conditions, restrictions or specific requirements that make it difficult to move goods from one country to another, and corrupt, complex or lengthy customs procedures.

While some NTBs can be resolved in a matter of hours, others need longer-term bilateral negotiations to address the policy issue that is causing the NTB.
To compliment the existing EAC-COMESA-SADC online reporting system ( which is not accessible to small cross borders traders due to lack of availability of internet facility, a new SMS tool has been developed to assist small traders and businesses to tackle problems and barriers they face when moving goods across African borders. Developed in South Africa, the SMS system makes it as easy as possible to report Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) to trade on the continent. It was launched on 9 April in the Zambian capital Lusaka by the Tripartite of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
“The SMS reporting mechanism is particularly useful to small and medium enterprises, which are dubbed the ‘engines of growth’ on the continent,” said Dr. Francis Mangeni, Director of Trade, COMESA Secretariat. "The tool increases the visibility of the barriers constraining intra-regional trade in Africa.”

The SMS tool is particularly useful to smaller traders who may not have access to the established web-based reporting system when they encounter a problem at a border post. Now, they can simply send a SMS, in any language, to a central administrator, who will then log it on the reporting system and forward it to one of the region’s focal points ; people working in the private and public sector who are specifically tasked with addressing NTBs. This person can then contact the trader or the company for additional information and help resolve their problem.

By helping smaller traders to identify NTBs that affect them, the Regional Economic Communities in the tripartite region will be able to put in place policy improvements to make the trade environment better for everyone,” said Vonesai Hove, from Trademark Southern Africa.

The system is flexible and provides possibilities for linking with other NTB-related systems such as the national EAC system.
The following is the process followed to address a complaint registered through SMS :
1. Complainant sends text message or registers a complaint online. Send your message to the following number : +27729492093
2. Complaint stored in the NTB system and Administrator notified
3. Administrator assigns RECs & Focal Points to resolve complaint
4. RECs & Focal Points starts resolution process & post comments
5. Administrator changes status of complaint to Resolved in system
6. Complainant notified that the complaint has been resolved.
The complainant has to ensure that he/she has the following information in the text message :
• Location of the incident
• Company name of the complainant
• The name of the contact person (complainant name or his colleague)
• E-mail address of a contact person.


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