Kigali, Rwanda – In it’s never ending quest to promote businesses and trade in the region. The Tanzania Private Sector foundation for the second time last month embarked it’s second Peer to Peer dialogue with their counterparts Private Sector Foundation-Rwanda. The objective of the Peer to Peer was to see an increase of private sector engagement in the bilateral framework to deal with issues pertinent to doing business.
TPSF led a delegation of 15 individuals comprising of business owners, business associations and officials from the public sector (Ministerial Development Agencies). Talks among the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) covered an array of issues from identifying policy and regulatory restrictions that undermine free movement of goods, services, capital and investment between the two countries, to finding amicable means of resolving non-tariff barriers along the central corridor.
Mr. Robert Opirah, the Director-General for Trade and Investment in the Ministry of Trade, Industry and EAC Affairs (Rwanda), at the meeting between the umbrella bodies reiterated the importance of trade between the two countries and EAC’s commitment towards increasing trade and cooperation among EAC member states. He further reaffirmed EAC’s commitment towards improving trade relations among EAC member states. Opirah assured participants of Rwanda’s “Unwavering commitment to seek practical ways” of completely eliminating NTBs in order to facilitate easier trade across borders and the region.
Among the issues discussed during the meeting were hurdles faced when doing business among the two countries. One of the challenges brought forward was the registration of clearing and forwarding (C&F) houses in Rwanda and obtaining the related license from Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA). On the same issue Rwandan businesses cited work permit requirements for Clearing & Forwarding agents as a requirement to work in Tanzania is limiting agents from setting up offices in Dar es Salaam. Further adding that only 20 clearing companies from Rwanda had access to TANCIS.
Regarding non-tariff barriers, participants spoke of unresolved NTBs and non-conforming measures or regulations which violate certain articles of investment agreement – faced by Tanzanian companies in Rwanda include the requirement from Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) to pay US$200 deposit at the border by transporters from Tanzania.
On his part Director of Policy from TPSF Mr. Gilead Teri, noted “Joint challenges” including non-harmonized road user charges or road tolls.
“This brings about a difference in charges when transporting to different regions hence varying costs,” Teri said, also noting that there are numerous monetary charges required by various agencies in the EAC Partner States for exports of milk and other dairy products.
Further still, Teri said, border management institutions’ working hours are not harmonized and this is costly to business.
Both parties commended government efforts on both sides to improve trade relations between Rwanda and Tanzania. The recently launched Rusumo International bridge and a One-Stop-Border Post are efforts easing trade.
Extended working hours at the border of Rusumo from 12 to 16 hours and round the clock operation of the port a beacon of hope that one day the Rusumo border will follow suit. Introduction of an Electronic Cargo tracking system has also meant less transit checkpoints.
Rwanda was one of the first countries visited by Dr. John Magufuli President U.R.T following his election. In his visit President Magufuli promised to open TPA offices in Kigali and emphasized the immense value of the sought after Standard Gauge Railway would have on both economies, once fully operational.
Tanzania is Rwanda’s top export destination. In 2014 Rwanda’s export to Tanzania amounted to USD181M, representing almost 28% of the total value of Rwanda’s export. Tanzania accounts for over 4% or USD80m of the total value of Rwanda’s imports.