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National Monitoring Committees on NTBs
Rwanda - Uganda Form Border Committees to Eliminate Trade Barriers
 
Posted on : 18 - Apr - 2013 - Viewed : 144 times

In a move to strengthen bilateral trade relations between the two sister countries—Rwanda and Uganda, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM) and its Ugandan counterpart ministry—Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC), with support from TradeMark East Africa, have established Border Committees to eliminate business challenges faced by small Cross Border Traders (CBTs) among others.
This occurred during a joint technical bilateral meeting that was held on 11th-13th March 2013 at Mirama Hills and Katuna borders to operationalize the Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) signed a year ago to among other things ; eliminate of Non Tariff Barriers(NTBs), promote cross border trade, develop Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and Cooperatives.

Participants at the meeting included representatives from Government ministries and the private sector representative organizations, local administration from the districts of Ntungamo and Kabale (Uganda) and Nyagatare and Gicumbi (Rwanda), border institutions including police and other security agencies, revenue authorities, immigration, and representatives from cross border traders’ cooperatives and associations.

In September last year, MINICOM launched the National Cross Border Trade Strategy aimed at providing producers with the information and skills required to produce for CBT markets, linking Rwanda’s production with demand in neighbouring countries, establishing storage facilities and market places closer to the borders, equipping exporters and traders with the right set of skills and finance to trade in higher volumes. Thus, the established Border Committees will be a critical component in elaborating the strategy.

In forming border committees, stakeholders especially the business community were given opportunity to articulate challenges they face in trading across borders. Officials from the Government also facilitated the formation of Border Committees, replicated on either sides comprised of ; Chair (as Border Manager Immigration), Vice Chair (as Cross Border Cooperative/Association president), and Secretary (as Customs Manager). The rest of the institutions are members to the committee.
The same exercise will be replicated at Cyanika Border next month.

Among the key issues raised at both meetings included ; poor road linking Mirama Hills and Ntungamo, poor telecommunication network at Mirama Hills hindering cross border trade, Unstreamlined method of collecting local levies on small scale business persons, inadequate sensitisation on the Simplified Trade Regime (STR), porous border and illegal entry due to long stretches between gazetted customs points, delays in clearances at customs, lack of a Trade Information Desk (TID) and inadequate ICT facilities.

The Joint Cross Border Committees, composed of members of Border Committees from either side shall be meeting on a quarterly basis to resolve issues emanating from the business communities. But Border committees shall meet regularly, at least once a month.

Meanwhile, plans are underway to tarmac the Ntungamo Mirama hills road and both Governments are fast-tracking the One Stop Border Post (OSBP) Project—which merges institutions’ services under one roof for better trade facilitation.

In a related development, both delegations reviewed the progress so far made in eliminating Non Tariff Barriers (NTBs) that were bilaterally earmarked in the MOU. Clearly, all the NTBs that were raised by Uganda against Rwanda have either been eliminated or seriously being worked on. However more efforts are needed to eliminate NTBs raised by Rwanda against Uganda like removal of weighbridges and weighing transit trucks at entry and exit points, reduction of roadblocks and checkpoints, delays at Malaba due to lack of parking yard and availing certificate of origin at border points etc. A joint NMC (National Monitoring Committee) technical meeting is being planned to work on a detailed NTBs progress review report and also draw up revised action plan and which will be followed by Ministers meeting responsible for trade in July 2013.

 
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