EAC pioneer for new trade facilitation model

19 April 2010

EAC pioneer for new trade facilitation model

East African Community goes operational with new common Customs policies based on international standards

At the 5th successful steering committee meeting for the WCO-EAC trade facilitation project on 10 March 2010 in Kigali, the five EAC Customs Commissioners (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda) signed new common Customs policies for Authorised Economic Operators, Risk Management and Post Clearance Audit.

These new policies will be introduced through the EAC structure and implemented through a pilot programme. When introduced, the processes will give faster border clearance and better services for business, while at the same time improving Customs controls and efficiency in revenue collection.

When implemented, the EAC will become the second region in the world after the European Union to introduce mutual recognition of Authorized Economic Operators and Customs controls at a regional level.

The East African Community Customs modernization project is the first programme to be sponsored from the Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency’s (SIDA) contribution to the World Customs Organization’s (WCO) Columbus Programme. The project is guided by a Steering Committee comprised of EAC Heads of Customs, the EAC Secretariat, the Regional Project Manager (RPM), the Head of the WCO Regional Office for Capacity Building for the East and Southern Africa region, the WCO secretariat and SITPRO (representing the interests of the business community). The East African Business Council (EABC) is invited to Steering Committee meetings to represent the regional and local private sector.

The Chairperson of the Steering Committee, Ms. Mary Baine, Commissioner General of the Rwanda Revenue Authority, stated:

“Today, we achieved major milestones in terms of the work that we had set out for ourselves and one of the major milestones is that we have actually agreed and signed off policies that we are going to use to try and improve the way we do our work in the region.”

The Executive Director of the East African Business Council (EABC), Ms. Agatha Nderitu, said:

“The private sector lauds the efforts of the EAC Revenue Authorities to introduce the concept of the AEO as it will greatly reduce the cost of doing business associated with delays in Customs clearance. EABC is therefore very privileged to be working with the WCO-EAC Customs Modernization project in order to sell the attendant benefits of this project to the private sector; including working with them to become AEO compliant. EABC however recognises that the key to success of this concept is mutual recognition of AEO’s across the EAC region.”

The WCO Director of Capacity Building, Mr. Lars Karlsson, commented:

“This is a great step forward for this important pilot capacity building programme on implementation at the regional level. The Customs Commissioners of the EAC as well as the EAC Secretariat’s Director of Customs have all showed tremendous leadership in their personal engagement and support for the project. I am also very pleased with the work done by the Regional Project Manager and the National Project Managers on the ground. This is truly a good practice example that can be used as a model for others to follow. Now we need to keep the momentum going to make sure that the implementation of the pilot will be started as soon as possible. I am convinced that the next phase will also be equally successful.”