Posted by: africanpressorganization | 5 March 2012

EAC meets to review plan for single customs territory



EAC meets to review plan for single customs territory


ARUSHA, Tanzania, March 5, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A two-day stakeholders’ workshop opened today in Arusha, Tanzania to review the draft final report of a study commissioned last year on the attainment of a Single Customs Territory (SCT) in the EAC region.


The study commenced in September 2011 and its primary purpose was to develop options and modalities for the attainment of a Single Customs Territory. The study would also recommend an appropriate SCT model suitable for the EAC and determine the most suitable institutional and legal framework for the execution of the Single Customs Territory.


Over the two-day period stakeholders, drawn from Partner States’ Ministries including Trade, EAC Affairs and Finance; and Government agencies responsible for Customs/Revenue Authorities, as well as representatives from the private sector will consider recommendations and provide inputs to enrich the final report for the proposed Single Customs Territory.


According to the EAC Director General for Customs and Trade, Mr. Peter Kiguta, transformation of the EAC into a Single Customs Territory is what is required to spur liberalized trade as goods would circulate freely through the Territory.


“We still have internal controls… Goods are not circulating freely,” Mr. Kiguta remarked, adding: “As a Customs Union we are supposed to be one Customs territory.”


He noted that the Summit of EAC Heads of State was concerned that these internal controls were hindering the region from the full benefits of the Customs Union.


To work effectively, a Single Customs Territory requires, among others, a common legal framework; circulation of goods with minimal or no border controls; harmonization of standards for goods moved through the Territory; an interconnected payment system; and collection of Customs duties at the first point of entry.


The consultants for the study, Adam Smith International and MA Consulting Group, affirm that a Single Customs Territory in the EAC region would provide benefits such as fewer internal border controls and use of Rules of Origin, since it would not be necessary to test locally produced goods for compliance with origin conferring criteria.


There would also be no requirement for strict bond controls and there would be no need to track consignments to ports of destination, allowing for faster movement of goods and ultimately lowering the cost of doing business in the region.


The draft final report of the study currently under discussion contains a raft of recommendations touching on the policy and institutional framework for attaining the Single Customs Territory.


The key recommendations include: interconnectivity of customs systems in the region to facilitate seamless flow of information between customs stations; a payment system to manage transfers of revenues between Partner States; and legal provisions to enjoin Partner States to enforce Customs debts on behalf of each other.


In addition, the study recommended operation of single window borders (that is, clearance procedures are done under one roof rather than scattered); while in the long term, a regional Customs authority with a stronger mandate to enforce compliance with the Customs law has been proposed.


The Council of Ministers is expected to submit recommendations of the study to the Summit’s next meeting due April.



East African Community (EAC)


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