South Sudan: The roles of Commerce and Customs

The newly formed state of South Sudan, demonstrates a painful understanding of trade and customs. Evidently this is the product of political thinking, or poor journalism, or zero understanding of economics and administration. I wonder what Customs role really is?

The Director General of Trade in the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Stephen Matatia said that his office is not for collecting tax revenue but only for imposing penalties on those who break the law and order. He said it is the Customs Service staff who have the responsibility of collection revenues. The ministry of Commerce staff are only there to collect the penalties from those traders who break the laws and orders of the land related to trade and commerce. He said their other function is the imposition of laws on prohibited goods.

Staff of ministry of Commerce stationed in Nimule border checkpoint report to headquarters in Juba every 15 days to present comprehensive report on their duties. He said the Ministry is preparing to open more offices in other parts of Greater equatorial and in Greater Upper Nile in the border with Ethiopia.In Western Equatoria, Greater Bahr Ghazal, Unity State, bordering with Sudan, Central Africa Republic, Congo, will need offices,” he declared. Matatia observed that in some countries of Africa a lot of ministries of commerce are being classified together with industry thus they have ministries for industry, commerce, supply and cooperatives. Source:


  1. Let’s hope it’s poor journalism. Otherwise it shows a very poor understanding of optimization as well as the potential of Customs and the benefits of coordinated border mangement processes.


  2. Interesting. Combining the executive functions of Trade and Industry is not uncommon, until recently one of the largest Government Departments in the UK was the Department for Trade & Industry – its policy responsibilities included some which impacted the Customs service. However, one of the roles of a modern Customs service is to generate tax revenue arising from the importation and exportation of goods an services. South Sudan could well benefit from the experience of other African nations emerging from conflict. I think specifically of Angola where post-conflict tax revenue generated by Customs was approx US$500 million a year. The Customs service has now gone through a lengthy modernisation programme and is now is a success story generating nearly US$3 billion a year, now one of the top Customs services in Africa. Other African countries have also benefited from modernisation programmes. The World customs Organisaton, the World Bank and other funding agencies can provide much support to such modernisation programmes. It would be in South Sudan’s longer term interest to similarly implement a full (as opposed to a piecemeal project) Customs modernisation programme


  3. The government of south sudan especially the ministry of commerces and industry in south sudan should have to do more to increase the volume of tax collection not only to collect the penalties why it does not collect the realy revenue? If it is able to collect penaties,the ministry and his staff should have to define well the taxes that they have to colect not only to collect penalties.But what i know about the trade and industry this ministry have a lot of resources where the generation of revenue will be generated from such as gravels,sand ,stones and other minuarals these are used randomly by the people they have to pay a little for using them.


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