West Africa comes East to learn about borders

Saturday September 17 2016

By MARYANNE GICOBI

Trade and Customs officials in West Africa are seeking ways to improve the management of their borders.

Officials from the Ecowas Commission from Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo and staff from trade, Customs and infrastructure departments participated in a five-day study tour from East Africa, from September 12 to 16.

The visit was organised by the Accelerating Trade in West Africa project in collaboration with TradeMark East Africa.

The delegates visited East Africa to learn how to run successful trade and transport programmes to reduce trade costs and barriers through a single window system and the use of border posts.

A statement from TradeMark East Africa said that the officials wanted to better understand Customs clearance processes, electronic cargo tracking and monitoring, and monitoring of non-trade barriers both nationally and regionally.

Delegates called on EAC Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko to discuss areas of collaboration at the regional level.

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They also paid a courtesy call on Amelia Kyambadde, Uganda’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Co-operatives, who explained about the establishment of a non-tariff barrier monitoring system. The Uganda Revenue Authority shared information on trade facilitation measures such as electronic cargo tracking and the national single window systems.

One Stop Border Post

At the Busia Border, the delegates saw the design and operations of the One-Stop Border Post.

Pending the conclusion on the establishment of a formal regional structure in West Africa, the delegates said some of the ideas could be adopted soon.

These include simplifying trade schemes for smaller traders, especially women, and supporting informal cross-border traders through markets and storage facilities.

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