The Rwandan government has named 22 businesses that have been given Authorised Economic Operators (AEO) special Customs status. This allows them to take their goods directly to their warehouses before tax clearance, among other benefits.
The Rwanda Revenue Authority signed an MoU with the AEOs on September 28.
This brought the number of AEOs in the country to 46 since the pioneer group of three.
The pioneer AEOs were licensed in 2008, and a second group of 21 in 2014.
Privileges enjoyed by AEOs include avoiding physical inspection of goods until their final destination, and self-clearance, which saves considerable time.
“By not being subjected to the inspections and immediate audits at Customs, it will increase operational efficiency and reduce the cost of doing business,” said Jean Karekezi, the managing director of Petrocom Ltd, a major fuel dealer in Rwanda.
Mr Karekezi said the new status should see the number of trips his trucks make in a month double, from a single roundtrip previously.
RRA officials said businesses given the special status, which will be applicable across the EAC, have consistently demonstrated compliance with Customs regulations and security procedures. Other criteria used are having an annual turnover of more than Rwf200 million ($237,124) of imports and exports, and tax compliance over a two year period.
RRA officials said businesses that applied for the certificate in 2015 were from different sectors such as agro-processing, manufacturing, and logistics management.
According to Richard Tusabe, the RRA Commissioner-General, the benefits enjoyed by the AEOs should trickle down to the final consumers.
“We will have achieved our objective when the savings businesses are making reach the final customer through price reductions on goods,” said Mr Tusabe.
The special Customs status is part of broader measures to ease trade between EAC member states, including the electronic single window system, cargo tracking system and single Customs territory.