South Sudan National Revenue Authority (NRA) and TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing to establish modern trade systems and procedures to support faster clearance and transiting of goods. This will build on work that TMEA in partnership with the governments is undertaking at Elegu-Nimule border, the main crossing point between Uganda and South Sudan.
The partners stated that attention will be given to enhancing faster clearance and movement of humanitarian goods coming into South Sudan aiming to halve the time it takes from current 2 days to one day or less. Of recent cargo destined for South Sudan has been delayed at Container Freight Stations in Mombasa, the designed interventions will ease the process. This will involve facilitating their movement from the port of entry, either Mombasa or Dar es Salaam to the South Sudan borders. TMEA was represented by its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Frank Matsaert, while the National Revenue Authority was represented by the Commissioner General, Dr. Olympio Attipoe. The MOU will be in force for the next three years.
Making his remarks, the Commissioner General, Dr. Olympio said, “ We are opening a new chapter with TradeMark East Africa by signing this MOU that aims at promoting fiscal transparency, accountability and effective revenue mobilization.”
On his part TMEA CEO Mr. Matsaert said, “We believe in the people of South Sudan; their resilience and adaptiveness is what has inspired us to renew our partnership here and work with the National Revenue Authority to facilitate trade for peace and prosperity in the country.”
Some of the envisioned projects include the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking system (RECTs), which is currently implemented along the Northern Corridor in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo in cooperation with the Revenue Authorities and Customs Administrations. RECTs is a web-based integrated system used to monitor transit cargo from departure (point of loading) to final destination within the countries where it is operational. A key benefit of RECTs is directly decreasing in transit costs by reducing lengthy transit times caused by physical checks in transit countries. The benefits of reduced costs of transit will also accrue to private sector players .South Sudan has in several occasions expressed keenness to adopt the cargo tracking system within its borders, as this will reduce cost of security bonds, incidences of theft and diversions, and enhance security along the transit highway to Juba.
In addition to this, NRA and TMEA will support trade facilitation initiatives that have been agreed to and ratified by the government of South Sudan including its access and utilization of all World Customs Organization’s instruments and services, aligning its operations to those of other East African Community’s Member States.
To improve efficiency in trade and reduce inequalities that result from the lack of access to information and time poverty, the two partners will devise online systems, such as, Trade Information Services Platform that shall provide information on international trade regulations and requirements. It will also map trade networks and other trade related information as defined and explained in the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (Bali Agreement).
Other projects that the partners are exploring include establishment of a Single Window Trade System for South Sudan.
TMEA first established offices in South Sudan in 2011 with support from mainly the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), Netherlands, Finland among others.. During that time, it facilitated interventions such as Customs Management Reforms, Elegu-Nimule border modernisation, modernisation of South Sudan Bureau of Standards including acquiring of new equipment, and training of personnel, support to East Africa Community (EAC) accession, and women and trade programmes.
“We believe that trade is a catalyst for peace. That is why we are committing to creating frameworks that bring together the private sector and the government, towards a common objective of promoting trade,” Said Mr. Matsaert.
South Sudan’s accession to the EAC, provides it with an opportunity to trade more with its neighbours, strengthen its governance structures, and increase economic activity. TMEA’s envisaged support in South Sudan is expected to enable businesses to benefit from reduced trade costs in the region, increase opportunities to trade and compete with their regional counterparts, and as a result, create employment opportunities locally.