EABC improves knowledge of women cross-border traders and youths

OVER 50 women leaders and youth joined in the capacity building workshop on East African Community ( EAC) simplified trade regime aimed at sharing experiences and charting out on policy recommendations to boost trade.

Speaking at the EABC-TMEA capacity building workshop on the EAC Simplified Trade Regime, EABC CEO John-Bosco Kalisa noted;  “This EABC-TMEA Capacity building workshop will take stock of the EAC Simplified Trade Regime and enable youth and women cross-border traders, to share experiences on the usability of the trade regime.’’

The Capacity Building Workshop on EAC Simplified Trade Regime is under the EABC-TMEA Public Private Dialogue Project for increased Trade and Investment in the EAC and being funded by The Netherlands

EABC Public Private Dialogues with Trade Facilitation Agencies Mr. Kalisa explained that the one Stop Border Points, women cross border trades requested for the establishment of storage and child care facilities and cross-border markets to ease their daily work.

Due to the misinterpretation and low understanding of the EAC Simplified Trade Regime by Customs Officials and small cross-border traders, Mr Kalisa elaborated that it is one of the main challenges hindering full utilization of the regime.

Apart from the challenges facing the regime being stated, there are some recommendations that were raised in the workshop. The recommendations are the Simplification and translation of custom documents into local languages, frequent holding of joint border trade committees, elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs), improving the safety and security of women cross-border traders and curbing corruption are among other recommendations raised by women cross-border traders.

Having the expansion of trade to happen, the CEO has urged for the maximum cargo value threshold under EAC Simplified Trade Regime of USD2000 to be upgraded to USD 5000.

On his part, Mr Dennis Karera, EABC Vice Chairperson added that EABC is committed to advocate for an effective EAC Simplified Trade Regime for trade that reflects realities on the ground.

‘’About 40000 cross-border traders, mainly women, use the Petit Barrier between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo,’’ Mr Karera said.

While addressing this, Mr Karera urged the youth ambassadors and women cross-border traders, to learn about the customs procedures and transfer the knowledge to their counterparts in their associations and cooperatives after the capacity building sessions.

He further urged governments to replicate the EAC Simplified Trade Regime at the Continental level under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

In her remarks, Ms Patience Mutesi, TMEA Country Director-Rwanda said TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) is committed to improving infrastructure, border coordination and has piloted cross-border markets at Rubavu and Rusizi with amenities for women; this has greatly facilitated small scale cross border trade.

She elaborated that nearly 70 percent of trade is informal; this is due to the inefficient border processes and low production capacity impact small cross-border trade.

She lauded the EABC-EASSI-Ministry for building the capacities of small cross-women border traders stating that empowered women is like empowering families, communities and nations.

On her part, the Eastern African Sub-regional Support Initiative (EASSI) Lina Asiimwe said that  the rollout of One Stop Border Posts have enabled women to move from informal to formal / gazette trade routes.

She also appealed for the EAC Simplified Certificate of Origin to be issued at no cost across all EAC borders to women small cross-border traders.

The Chief Guest, who is also the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Trade and Industry, Mr Richard Niwenshuti said the government of the Republic of Rwanda is committed to understanding the context of small cross-border traders to formulate better policies and open new market opportunities and trade  focusing on the African Continental Free Trade Area.

The permanent secretary stated some of the solutions boost cross-border trade aimed at improving physical and soft infrastructure at the borders, harmonizing and easing inspection of standards, sanitary and phyto sanitary measures, supporting small traders to tap into digital trade and tools and consolidating informal associations to formalize into cooperatives.

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