Rwandan Private Sector Federation (PSF) has stated that Non-Tariff Barriers (NTB) posed by some East African Community country members continue to hinder the competitiveness of cross-border trade.
The major NTB barriers cited by PSF includes; slowness of clearance at the customs of Mombasa and Dar es-Salam, Kenya and Tanzania ports respectively.
The EAC Non-Tariff Barriers challenges were raised in Kigali as PSF was presenting the business and investment climate survey.
The survey indicated that it takes an average of 7.9 days to transport containers from Mombasa and Dar es-Salam to Kigali while custom clearance takes 8.5 days.
According to PSF, the issue of clearance delays is caused by failure of some countries to share information system technology which would speed up clearance.
“It would be easy if countries used digital means to share information of business flow between them and us (Rwanda). This platform is still lacking, which causes delays,” Robinson Mugisha, Head of research unit at PSF told KT Press.
Mugisha said, the countries that are reluctant to share information could be fearing for their security, which is not a relevant motive.
Even after clearance, Mugisha said, the traders are exposed to corrupt law enforcers who mount roadblocks along the way asking for bribes.
“Drivers delay at roadblocks and thus take too long to reach Kigali,” he said.
According to Mugisha, High transport costs in East African Community have often been cited as a serious challenge to Rwanda’s ability to compete effectively with its neighbors.
Importers told KT Press, it costs $4,990, on average to import a 20ft container while the sub-Saharan average is $2,504.
This significantly affects Rwanda’s competitiveness in terms of cross-border trade.
AlbertNsengiyumva, a cargo truck driver told KT Press that the delay on the way is sometimes caused by police officers who stop them at road blocks. I can spend an hour, if I do not give them money. Imagine if I have to cross 9 check points.”
Andrew Kanyonya, an importer told KT Press: “the more time you spend on the way, the more customers you lose at the the destination. We can’t be competitive when we are not trading in the same conditions like our neighbors.”
“There is serious need for EAC countries to solve challenges, otherwise there isn’t fair competiton in the region or even the so called one market” Kanyonya told KT Press.