Archives For Tanzania

AGOA States-GAO

“Is the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) always a poisoned chalice from the United States of America?”, asks an editorial in The East African. The Kenya newspaper suggests it appeared to be so after the US allowed a petition that could see Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda lose their unlimited opening to its market.

This follows the US Trade Representative assenting last week to an appeal by Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association, a used clothes lobby, for a review of the three countries’ duty-free, quota-free access to the country for their resolve to ban importation of used clothes, the The East African continues.

The US just happens to be the biggest source of used clothes sold in the world. Some of the clothes are recycled in countries like Canada and Thailand before being shipped to markets mostly in the developing world.

In East Africa, up to $125 million is spent on used clothes annually, a fifth of them imported directly from the US and the bulk from trans-shippers including Canada, India, the UAE, Pakistan, Honduras and Mexico.

The East Africa imports account for 22 percent of used clothes sold in Africa. Suspending the three countries from the 2000 trade affirmation would leave them short of $230 million in foreign exchange that they earn from exports to the US.

That would worsen the trade balance, which is already $80 million in favour of the US. In trade disputes, numbers do not tell the whole story. Agoa now appears to have been caught up in the nationalism sweeping across the developed world and Trumponomics.

US lobbies have been pushing for tough conditions to be imposed since it was enacted, including the third country rule of origin which would require that apparel exports be made from local fabric.

The rule, targeted at curbing China’s indirect benefits from Agoa through fabric sales, comes up for a legislative review in 2025, making it prudent for African countries to prepare for the worst. Whether that comes through a ban or phasing out of secondhand clothing (the wording that saved Kenya from being listed for a review) is immaterial.

What is imperative is that African countries have to be resolute in promoting domestic industries. In textiles and leather, for instance, that effort should include on-farm incentives for increasing cotton, hides and skins output, concessions for investments in value-adding plants like ginneries and tanneries and market outlets for local textile and shoe companies.

The world over, domestic markets provide the initial motivation for production before investors venture farther afield. Import bans come in handy when faced with such low costs of production in other countries that heavy taxation still leaves those products cheaper than those of competitors in the receiving countries.

The US has also been opposed to heavy taxation of used clothes, which buyers say are of better quality and more durable. For Kenya to be kept out of the review, it had to agree to reduce taxes on used apparel.

These factors have left Agoa beneficiaries in a no-win situation: Damned if you ban, damned if you do not. With their backs to the wall, beneficiaries like Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda have to think long term in choosing their industrial policies and calling the US bluff.

Beneficiaries must speak with one voice to effectively guard against trade conditions that over time hamper domestic industrial growth. Source: The East African, Picture: US GAO

KRA-Customs-Transit-Control

Kenya Revenue Authority Commissioner-General John Njiraini announces the implementation of a common customs and transit cargo control framework to rid Mombasa port of corruption

Four East African countries on Tuesday agreed to fast-track implementation of a common customs and transit cargo control framework to enhance regional trade.

Commissioners-general from the Kenyan, Ugandan, Rwandan and Tanzanian revenue authorities said adoption of an excise goods management system would curb illicit trade in goods that attract excise duty across borders.

They said creation of a single regional bond for goods in transit would ease movement of cargo, with taxation being done at the first customs port of entry.

The meeting held in Nairobi supported formation of the Single Customs Territory, terming it a useful measure that will ease clearance of goods and reduce protectionist tendencies, thereby boosting business.

Implementation of the territory is being handled in three phases; the first will address bulk cargo such as fuel, wheat grain and clinker used in cement manufacturing.

Phase two will handle containerised cargo and motor vehicles, while the third will deal with intra-regional trade among countries implementing the arrangement.

The treaty for establishment of the East African Community provides that a customs union shall be the first stage in the process of economic integration.

Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) commissioner-general John Njiraini said the recently introduced customs and border control regulations were designed to enhance revenue collection and beef up security at the entry points.

“At KRA, we have commenced the implementation of a number of revenue enhancement programmes particularly on the customs and border control front that will address security and revenue collection at all border points while enhancing swift movement of goods,” he said.

To address cargo diversion cases, the regional revenue authorities resolved that a joint programme be rolled out to reform transit goods clearance and monitoring processes. Source: DailyNation (Kenya)

Campaigners say rising demand in Asia is fuelling the poaching of elephants in Africa and the smuggling of ivory

Campaigners say rising demand in Asia is fuelling the poaching of elephants in Africa and the smuggling of ivory

Officials travelling to Tanzania with Chinese President Xi Jinping went on a buying spree for illegal ivory, an environmental activist group has said.

In a report, the Environmental Investigation Agency cited ivory merchants who said demand from the delegation in 2013 had sent prices soaring.

China denies the allegations, saying it consistently opposes poaching. Read the following blog – Tanzania – Chinese ivory spree during presidential visit. authored by Africa – News and Analysis.

EAC-logoSince July 2014, EAC revenue officers work together to facilitate trade within the community. Some improvements remain made; the Single Customs Territory (SCT) does present some advantages. Since the single customs territory is operational, clearing processes are established in the country of destination while the goods are still at the port of Dar es Salaam”, explains Leah Skauki, a SCT liaison officer at the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA).

Once the declaration is over, when custom duties and taxes are paid, TRA verifies the physical goods. “The office grants a notification testifying that the goods fulfil all requirements in order to get the exit note.” Within the new system, the number of weighbridges and non-tariff barriers are reduced because “truck drivers only have to show the documents which certify that the goods have undergone verification.”

Massoundi Mohamed Ben Ali, Administrative Director in Charge of Human Resources and Import – Export at the Bakhresa Grain Milling Burundi, is pleased with the new development. “Before the system was implemented, Bakhresa used to import 3800 Tonnes of wheat (40 trucks) and we were obliged to declare each truck with a different clearing agent. We now fill in one statement with one clearing agent. The procedures are done quickly with a small of amount of money”, he points out.

Clearing agents testify that the number of statement on the borders is reduced. “Before, transporters had to fill in a transit declaration (T1) on each border”, one of the clearing agents in the Dares Salaam port relates.

Aimable Nsabimana, a focal point of SCT in Dar es Salaam for the Burundi Revenue Authority, indicates that the computerised system they use is different in each country.”It is not easy to exchange data. We are forced to print documents for verification. And when the goods arrive in Tanzania, they are in the hands of the TRA which has its own software”, he notes.

Inter-connectivity of software would facilitate verification and avoid fraud. This opinion is shared by many clearing agents: “If we were interconnected, the Tanzanians would be able to easily access Burundian data and vice versa”, one of them says.

Léonce Niyonzima, programme and monitoring officer at OBR and the national coordinator of SCT, agrees that the lack of interconnectivity causes delays in the transmission of documents.

He says that all EAC countries should have been interconnected by June 2014, but due to technical problems Tanzania and Burundi still lag behind. “There is a technical committee responsible for monitoring and evaluation which will draw up the balance sheet of the challenges before ending the pilot stage at the end of this year.”

The Single Customs Territory is funded by Trademark East Africa with an amount of USD 450 thousand for the redeployment of staff, travel expenses, inspection and supervision, information technology, office equipment and assistance. Source: http://www.iwacu-burundi.org

BagamoyoThe government of Tanzania has announced that successful negotiation with Chinese officials will allow work to start on the $11bn Bagamoyo megaport this year, rather than January 2015, as originally scheduled.

The port is to be developed by China Merchants Holdings International, the world largest independent port operators. In the first phase of work, the quay, the container yards, the cargo terminals and all dredging work will be completed by 2017.

These facilities will then be expanded in stages over a period of 30 years, to give an eventual capacity of 20 million containers a year. This is likely to make the port the largest on the east coast of Africa, with a capability to handle roll on, roll off ships and container vessels with a 10,000 TEU capacity (these is, “new Panamax” ships that are too large to fit in the Panama Canal).

Underwriting the development is the discovery of some 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which is going to make the country a leading exporter over the next decade.

Bagamoyo is seen as a Tanzania’s trump card in the sharpening struggle with other east African companies for foreign investment, export markets, industrial development and business from landlocked countries in the interior.

In particular, Tanzania is competing with the Kenyan port of Mombasa for investment and the handling of exports from Uganda, Burundi, Zambia and Rwanda. Although it looks to be in the lead in terms of port infrastructure, Kenya has taken the lead in the development of effective rail links, and Mozambique is closer to bringing its liquid natural gas deposits to market.

When completed, the port will cover about 800 hectares. Around it will be a 1,700 hectare special economic zone. The intention is to encourage set up industries that process or refine Tanzania’s raw materials, such as coffee roasting or ore processing, thereby capturing more of the value chain.

Adelhelm Meru, the director general of the Export Processing Zones Authority, which will be in charge of the zone, told journalists in Dar es Salaam recently that he wanted to attract “industries specialising in value-addition of agricultural products” which he said had been a leading area of investment under the EPZA for the past six years. He said about 55% of industries established under the EPZA dealt in agricultural and textile processing.

The zone is expected to be fully developed by 2024. Source: Global Contruction Review

Artist's impression of the Bagamoyo SEZ Masterplan - Source: http://www.ansaf.or.tz/Investment%20...0(%20EPZA).pdf

Artist’s impression of the Bagamoyo Port and SEZ Masterplan – Source: http://www.ansaf.or.tz/Investment%20…0(%20EPZA).pdf

Growing volumes of cargo at all African ports has forced port authorities and operators to increase capacity, analyse operations to increase efficiency, and employ measures to allow bigger ships into their ports. The East Africa Region has various projects underway. The new Lamu Port in Kenya costing $5.3 billion (Reuters.com) and the Bagamoyo port in Tanzania costing $11 billion (The East African) are examples of countries preparing for the ever-growing port capacity needs. When completed in 2017, Bagamoyo will become the biggest container terminal in Africa: with a planned cargo of 20 million TEU a year; it will be 20 times larger than the port at Dar-es- Salaam and likely to rank in the top 10 terminals in the world in terms of volume capacity.

Reconfiguring port layout, and increasing berths at existing ports and conducting dredging more often, have been other strategies that numerous ports have employed to meet this need. Port of Maputo will be undertaking dredging to increase its channel depth from 11 meters to 14 meters this year, to allow larger vessels entry (Dredgingtoday.com). Tanzania will invest $523 million for new berths 13 and 14 to more than double its container capacity at Dar es Salaam Port (Tradeinvestafrica.com).

Source: portexpansioneastafrica.com

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flags2African countries are coming under strong pressure from the United States and the European Union to reverse the decision adopted by their trade ministers to implement the World Trade Organization’s trade facilitation agreement on a “provisional” basis.

At last week’s summit of African Union leaders in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, “there was unprecedented [U.S. and European Union] pressure and bulldozing to change the decision reached by the African trade ministers on April 27 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to implement the trade facilitation (TF) agreement on a provisional basis under paragraph 47 of the Doha Declaration,” Ambassador Nelson Ndirangu, director for economics and external trade in the Kenyan Foreign Ministry, told IPS.

“This pressure comes only when the issues and interests of rich countries are involved but not when the concerns of the poorest countries are to be addressed,” Ambassador Ndirangu said.

“Clearly, there are double-standards,” the senior Kenyan trade official added, lamenting the pressure and arm-twisting that was applied on African countries for definitive implementation of the agreement.

The TF agreement was concluded at the WTO’s ninth ministerial conference in Bali, Indonesia, last year. It was taken out of the Doha Development Agenda as a low-hanging fruit ready for consummation. More importantly, the agreement was a payment to the United States and the European Union to return to the Doha negotiating table.

The ambitious TF agreement is aimed at harmonising customs rules and regulations as followed in the industrialised countries. It ensures unimpeded market access for companies such as Apple, General Electric, Caterpillar, Pfizer, Samsung, Sony, Ericsson, Nokia, Hyundai, Toyota and Lenovo in developing and poor countries.

Former WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy has suggested that the TF agreement would reduce tariffs by 10 percent in the poorest countries.

In return for the agreement, developing and least-developed countries were promised several best endeavour outcomes in the Bali package on agriculture and development.

They include general services (such as land rehabilitation, soil conservation and resource management, drought management and flood control), public stockholding for food security, an understanding on tariff rate quota administration, export subsidies, and phasing out of trade-distorting cotton subsidies (provided largely by the United States) in agriculture.

The non-binding developmental outcomes include preferential rules of origin for the export of industrial goods by the poorest countries, a special waiver to help services suppliers in the poorest countries, duty-free and quota-free market access for least developed countries (LDCs), and a monitoring mechanism for special and differential treatment flexibilities.

African countries were unhappy with the Bali package because they said it lacked balance and was tilted heavily in favour of the TF agreement forced by the industrialised countries on the poor nations.

The Bali outcomes, said African Union Trade Commissioner Fatima Acyl, “were not the most optimal decisions in terms of African interests … We have to reflect and learn from the lessons of Bali on how we can ensure that our interests and priorities are adequately addressed in the post-Bali negotiations.”

The African ministers in Malabo directed their negotiators to propose language on the Protocol of Amendment – the legal instrument that will bring the TF agreement into force at the WTO – that the TF agreement will be provisionally implemented and in completion of the entire Doha Round of negotiation.

African countries justify their proposal on the basis of paragraph 47 of the Doha Declaration which enables WTO members to implement agreement either on a provisional or definitive basis.

The African position on the TF agreement was not acceptable to the rich countries. In a furious response, the industrialised countries adopted a belligerent approach involving threats to terminate preferential access.

The United States, for example, threatened African countries that it would terminate the preferential access provided under the Africa Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA) programme if they did not reverse their decision on the TF, said a senior African trade official from Southern Africa.

The WTO has also joined the wave of protests launched by the industrialised countries against the African decision for deciding to implement the TF on a provisional basis. “I am aware that there are concerns about actions on the part of some delegations [African countries] which could compromise what was negotiated in Bali last December,” WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said, at a meeting of the informal trade negotiations committee on June 25.

The African decision, according to Azevedo, “would not only compromise the Trade Facilitation Agreement – including the technical assistance element. All of the Bali decisions – every single one of them – would be compromised,” he said.

The United States agreed with Azevedo’s assessment of the potential danger of unravelling the TF agreement, and the European Union’s trade envoy to the WTO, Ambassador Angelos Pangratis, said that “the credibility of the negotiating function of this organisation is once again at stake” because of the African decision.

The United States and the European Union stepped up their pressure by sending security officials to Malabo to oversee the debate, said another African official. He called it an “unprecedented power game rarely witnessed at an African heads of nations meeting.”

In the face of the strong-arm tactics, several African countries such as Nigeria and Mauritius refused to join the ministerial consensus to implement the TF agreement on a provisional basis. Several other African countries subsequently retracted their support for the declaration agreed to in April.

In a nutshell, African Union leaders were forced to change their course by adopting a new decision which “reaffirms commitment to the Doha Development Agenda and to its rapid completion in accordance with its development objectives.”

The African Union “also reaffirms its commitment to all the decisions the Ministers took in Bali which are an important stepping stone towards the conclusion of the Doha Round … To this end, leaders acknowledge that the Trade Facilitation Agreement is an integral part of the process.”

Regarding capacity-building assistance to developing countries to help them implement the binding TF commitments, African Union countries still want to see up-front delivery of assistance. The new decision states that African Union leaders “reiterate in this regard that assistance and support for capacity-building should be provided as envisaged in the Trade Facilitation Agreement in a predictable manner so as to enable African economies to acquire the necessary capacity for the implementation of the agreement.”

The decision taken by the African leaders is clearly aimed at implementing the TF decision, but there is no clarity yet on how to implement the decision, said Ndirangu. “We never said we will not implement the TF agreement but we don’t know how to implement this agreement,” he added.

In an attempt to ensure that the rich countries do not walk away with their prized jewel in the Doha crown by not addressing the remaining developmental issues, several countries – South Africa, India, Uganda, Tanzania, Solomon Islands and Zimbabwe – demanded Wednesday that there has to be a clear linkage between the implementation of the TF agreement and the rest of the Doha Development Agenda on the basis of the Single Undertaking, which stipulates that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed!

More than 180 days after the Bali meeting, there is no measurable progress on the issues raised by the poor countries. But the TF agreement is on course for final implementation by the end of 2015. Source: Inter Press Service

PAUL-KAGAME-WINDOW-SYSTEMPresident Paul Kagame yesterday launched Kenya National Electronic Single Window System seen as a major boost for regional trade since it will simplify clearance processes of goods.

The launch was part of the activities of the 5th Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit held in Nairobi, and was attended by Presidents Kagame, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Yoweri Kaguta of Uganda, as well as the second vice president of Burundi and Tanzania’s prime minister.

Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya – which heavily rely on the Kenyan port of Mombasa – are spearheading a series of joint projects aimed at fast tracking regional development through joint infrastructure, trade and political and economic integration.

The use of Electronic Single Window System is expected to centralise trade services such as tracking of goods, custom clearance, and electronic payment including through mobile money.

The system will also integrate with Kenya Revenue Authority, making the clearance at Kenyan ports a lot faster and easier.

“I just want to reiterate how this is one of many important projects that the East African Community partner states have undertaken to deepen integration that we have been seeking, make business more efficient, and lower the cost of doing business as we move forward,” Kagame said at the launch.

Making tech tick

He reiterated Rwanda’s “continued active participation towards making integration a reality.” President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto described the Single Window System as yet another building bloc in the EAC integration process.

“Our ultimate vision should be to implement an EAC Regional Single Window platform. The benefits from this initiative may not be fully realised unless all of us in the region adopt National Single Window Systems.

“Our brothers in Rwanda are already implementing a Single Window System and similar efforts are underway in Tanzania and Uganda,” Kenyatta said.

The Kenyan leader said the technology will make it possible for traders to submit information about their goods to multiple government agencies in multiple locations, making business faster and more efficient.

After the launch of the Kenya National Electronic Single Window System, also known as Kenya TradeNet, the Heads of State and Government discussed the progress of several other projects under the Northern Corridor initiative. Source: AllAfrica.com

banner4Transport Forex, created by Inter Africa Bureau de Change, a registered bureau de change with the South African Reserve Bank has created an unique online banking system for the transport industry.

With branches at all of South African border posts, the company has expanded operations into Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, the DRC and Tanzania with offices on all the major border posts between these countries.

Transport Forex is an online ordering system where the transport manager can deposit money in South Africa into the relevant account therefore ensuring when drivers arrive at the relevant border posts there is enough money for them to pay the relevant duties. At the same time, this ensures enough cash is in the account for drivers to purchase fuel at key petrol stations or even pay for a service on-route in one of the partner countries.

Once the monies have been deposited into the account, an order number is sent via SMS to the driver who then presents it at the relevant Transport Forex office to draw the necessary funds required.

In the same way you can book and pay for diesel for your truck on any of the major transport routes in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, the DRC and Tanzania. Transport Forex has negotiated with partner fuel suppliers for better prices and passes this discount directly to the transport company.

A new Payment Service was introduced in 2013 for clients. Should additional unforeseen funds be required for an emergency while the driver is on the road then monies can be made available for drivers almost immediately. This prevents valuable time from being lost.

Transport Forex is also in negotiations with several government institutions so relevant duties and taxes for operators’trucks can also be paid through the system in advance.

To join Transport Forex simply log onto www.transportforex.co.za, and click on “Create Account”. Registration is free, and there are no monthly charges.

An aerial view of Dar es Salaam port, whose limitations stakeholders hope the new Bagamoyo port will replace. (Tanzania Daily News)

An aerial view of Dar es Salaam port, whose limitations stakeholders hope the new Bagamoyo port will replace. (Tanzania Daily News)

Construction of Bagamoyo port is expected to commence early this month, the government has revealed.

Scheduled for completion in 2017, the Bagamoyo port will have the capacity to handle twenty times more cargo that of Dar es Salaam Port, which is currently the country’s largest port.

This was revealed recently in Dar es Salaam by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Dr Servacius Likwelile during the signing of two framework agreements and two exchanges of letters between the government of Tanzania and the People’s Republic of China which granted 89bn/- to finance implementation of various projects in the country.

“The construction of Bagamoyo port will commence on January 6, this year after the signing of the construction agreement between Tanzania and China on that same day,” noted Dr Likwelile.

The construction of Bagamoyo port comes almost in time as Tanzania is losing a lot of trade and commerce opportunities because of inefficiency of the Dar es Salaam port.

According to Tanzania’s Ambassador to China Philip Marmo, the over USD10 bn/- Bagomoyo port project will add to the economy as the port will have the capacity to handle 20 million containers a year compared to the Dar es Salaam port which handles only 800,000 containers a year.

“The Bagamoyo port construction project will entail the building of a 34 kilometre road joining Bagamoyo and Mlandizi and a 65 kilometres of railway connecting Bagamoyo with the Tanzania-Zambia Railway (TAZARA) and Central Railway. The port will be of high standard. We are building a fourth generation port,” said Marmo.

According to Marmo, the Chinese stand to gain from Tanzania’s future Bagamoyo port because it will facilitate China-bound shipments of minerals from Zambia, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) via the Indian Ocean.

The construction of the Bagamoyo port is among the 16 recently signed development projects agreement between Tanzania and China, orchestrated by President Jakaya Kikwete and Chinese President Xi Jinping during Xi’s state visit to Dar es Salaam in March last year.

Speaking of the recently 89bn/- Chinese financial aid for implementation of various projects in the country, Likwelile said it involved the first framework agreement on economic and technical cooperation between Tanzania and China under which a gratuitous aid amounting to 52bn/- will be provided to support implementation of projects that will be agreed upon by the two governments at a later stage.

“Under the second framework agreement, the government of China will make available to the Tanzanian government an interest free loan amounting to 26bn/ to support implementation of projects also to be agreed upon by the two governments,” he added.

He further mentioned the Chinese donation of furniture and equipment worth 1.3bn/- to the Mwalimu Nyerere International Convention Centre as well as equipment worth 400m/- donated to the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) office.

During the signing function, the Chinese government also donated to the ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation 91 vehicles worth 9bn/- including 45 limousines and 46 buses. Source: The Guardian & ippmedia.com

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The following article featured in The New Times (Rwanda) provides a snap shot of developments towards a future “Customs Union” in East Africa. While valid concerns are being expressed by traders, how close are the respective Customs administrations in terms of common standards (tariff, regimes, etc), and the application of common external border procedures? The rest of Africa should follow this process closely. Unlike the EU, where it is incumbent of prospective Customs Union members to first attain and implement minimum customs standards prior to accession, here you have a pot-pourri of member states who apply national measures aspiring to an ultimate regional standard. Who determines this standard? Who is going to maintain ‘watch’ over the common implementation of such standards? Forgive the long article – this is a very significant development for the African continent.

0c8d8_logo_of_east_african_community_eac_-63ae9With the East Africa Community integration process gaining pace rapidly, clearing and forwarding agents have been advised to set up shop at entry ports under the proposed single customs territory.

Angelo Musinguzi, the KPMG tax manager, who is representing traders on the team of experts negotiating the establishment of the single customs territory, challenged the agents to look at the opportunities that the policy brings instead of focusing on how it will harm their businesses. “You need to look at this as an opportunity for business expansion because this policy will remove trade tariff barriers, duplication of time-consuming and costly processes and corruption. This will improve efficiency and reduce the cost of doing business,” he said.

The advice follows a deal reached by Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda where top customs officials from landlocked Rwanda and Uganda will be stationed at Mombasa port to ensure quick clearing of goods and curb dumping of cheap products in the region. Under the deal, Kenya will create space for its partners to set up customs clearing units.

Rwanda was given the task of establishing the single customs territory at the recently-concluded meeting between Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni held in Entebbe, Uganda. However, local clearing and forwarding agents as well as traders are skeptical about the deal and want the process delayed until Rwandan businesses are supported to become more competitive.

“There are issues we still have to examine critically before the policy is implemented. For example, who will collect revenue and how will it be collected? How will Rwanda share the revenue? Will we have a common legal framework? Will we share Kenya’s or Tanzania’s infrastructure?

Fred Seka, the Association of Freight Forwarders and Clearing Agents of Rwanda president, noted that the move could affect them negatively if it is not studied carefully. “We have already raised the matter with the Minister of Trade. Besides hurting small firms, the country will lose jobs when companies relocate to Mombasa or Dar es Salaam. That is a big concern for us,” Seka said.

He noted that some of the partner states have many trade laws that might affect their operations. “It would be better if a locally-licensed company is not subjected to any other conditions once it relocates to Mombasa,” Seka noted.

Mark Priestley, the TradeMark East Africa country director, said the research firm and other players were currently conducting studies on how the single customs territory can operate without harming any player. “The intention is not only to ensure that we get rid of barriers which have been hampering trade, but also reduce the cost of doing business within the region,” he said. He added, however, that it was too early for traders to be scared of the consequences of operating under the single customs territory.

Last year the Permanent Secretary in the EAC Ministry, stated that the model which will involve shifting customs operations from Rwanda to the ports of Mombasa, and Dar es Salaam, will lead to unemployment, revenue loss and adverse multiplier effects. According to the model, certificates of origin of goods would be scrapped, which, according to Kayonga, would lead to the suffocation of local industries as well as making the region a dumping ground for unnecessary products.

Scovia Mutabingwa, the Aim Logistics East Africa managing director, said there was need for more consultations on the operation of the single customs territory “to understand how it will work”. “We need to know where our bargaining power is in the region?” Mutabingwa said. She noted that there was a need to first harmonise other trade policies if the single customs territory is to benefit all businesses in the region. She pointed out that she had applied for a clearing and forwarding licence in Tanzania over one and half years ago, but she was yet to get it. “How shall we work in such countries?” she wondered.

Another clearing firm, urged those negotiating the deal to ensure uniformity in tax policies across the region. “In Rwanda, there is 100 per cent tax compliancy, but we know this is not the same in other countries. How will we compete favourably if such issues are not addressed?” she wondered.

While one needs at least $300,000 to open a business in Kenya or they have to give a stake in their company to a resident, non-Kenyan companies also pay higher taxes at 35 per cent corporate tax compared to 30 per cent for locals.

Tanzania still has over 63 trade laws, and to operate a clearing firm there you need to be a Tanzanian, according to Musinguzi.

The East African Community (EAC) Customs Union Protocol came into effect in July 2009 after it was ratified by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in 2004 and later by Rwanda and Burundi in 2008. The creation of the EAC customs union was the first stage of the four step EAC regional integration process.

When fully implemented, the customs union will consolidate the East Africa Community into a single trading bloc with uniform policies, resulting in a larger economy. By working together to actualise the customs union, partner states will deepen EAC co-operation, allowing their citizens to reap the benefits of accelerated economic growth and social development.

However, the customs union is not yet fully implemented because there is a significant level of exclusions to the common external tariff and tariff-free movement of goods and services.

bagamoyo-mapThe Chinese President has sealed Tanzania’s Bagamoyo project. Tanzania has laid down its claim for a future large slice of regional trade through a deal with China to build the new port of Bagamoyo in its Mbegani area, north west of Dar es Salaam, at a total cost of $10bn.

The deal was announced by the President of China, Xi Jinping, while recently visiting Dar es Salaam and forms part of a major investment by the China in the infrastructure of the Mbegani area and East African seaboard – a project to be completed by 2028 with the expectation that Bagamoyo port will supersede Dar es Salaam port as the country’s main port and container handling centre.

The new port will be built with a draft sufficient to accommodate higher capacity container vessels up to 10,000 teu and beyond, as well as possess specialised roll-on roll-off berths and other cargo berths.

The overall scale of the planned development is such that it will provide a highly competitive solution to Kenya’s port expansion plans in Mombasa and Lamu which, as well as catering for national trade, are focused on meeting the needs of surrounding landlocked countries such as Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

Kenya has ground out plans for a new deep water container terminal in Mombasa – now under construction – and has embarked upon major new port development at Lamu, but the Bagamoyo port plan has a stronger profile and coherence to it. The money is down and in the background are new offshore gas discoveries for Tanzania which promise to play their part in promoting a strong and enduring relationship with China.

The first-phase development of Bagamoyo port is expected to be in operation by 2017 with construction undertaken by China Merchant Holdings of Hong Kong.

There has been no discussion to-date of whether the new port will feature cargo handling terminals operated by the private or public sector. As in Kenya, this subject remains something of a ‘hot potato’ with some Tanzania Port Authority executives suggesting it was a mistake to introduce the private sector as the operator of the Dar es Salaam Container Terminal. As in Mombasa, there is a belief that the public sector could have done as well as private interests in seeking to achieve efficient container terminal operation.

This belief persists in certain circles despite the TPA taking steps to raise the calibre of executives in its organisation through the introduction of executives from the private sector and a greater overall focus on human resources.

Dar es Salaam currently handles over 9m tons of cargo per year which is equivalent to about 95% of all Tanzania’s import and export volumes. In container trade alone, growth has been over 12% per annum since 2000. Despite this, the cost of shipping to Tanzania is about 25% higher than rates to the larger competing ports in southern Africa. This is mostly attributable to port inefficiencies brought about by inadequate investment in port infrastructure.

These costs are compounded when the effects of congestion and delay are added to the total freight bill, which can account for between 20%-70% of the total delivered price, inflating the price of imports and undermining global and regional export competitiveness.

The rationale for the introduction of major new port capacity in Tanzania is self-evident – demand is outstripping available capacity. It is to be hoped, however, that new capacity will be introduced supported by a modern port management model and institutional arrangements to facilitate optimum use of this capacity at the lowest cost. Source: PortTechnology.com

EACThe EAC business community has been asked to take advantage of the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) scheme that seeks to cut down costs of doing business in the East African member states.

The AEO programme, launched in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday, is an entity involving importers, clearing agents, transport companies authorized to import and move cargo within the EAC region with minimal inspections and other customs interventions at checkpoints.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of East African Cooperation Dr Stergomena Tax, launching the World Customs Organisation (WCO)-AEO pilot programme said, “The AEO status can provide companies with significant competitive advantages in terms of supply chain certainty and reduced import costs and finally to the final consumer.”

Apart from reduced transport costs, Dr Tax said the programme would also pull down storage charges because of minimal customs border inspections as well as few checkpoints or road blocks for transit goods.

The Swedish Ambassador to Tanzania Mr Lennarth Hjelmåker said the AEO scheme is a broader compliance strategy to reward compliant traders with simplification benefits which are concrete and predictable.

“Regional integration and cooperation are factors which are important for development, including creation of favourable conditions under which private sector can operate and provide for economic growth with focus on sustainability,” he said.

Sweden, through the Swedish International Development Cooperation (SIDA), has been supporting the work carried out by the WCO-EAC-AEO programme since 2008. Speaking on behalf of the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) Commissioner General Mr Saleh Mshoro, the revenues body’s Finance Director said efficiency and effectiveness of customs procedures can significantly boost the nation’s economic competitiveness.

The launching of AEO programme marks the beginning of a journey between the region’s revenues authorities and the business communities in facilitating smooth and win win trading activities. Source: Tanzania Daily News

Port of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, West Africa. Image credit: TPA

Port of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, West Africa. Image credit: TPA

China has announced plans for a new US$10 billion mega port in the Tanzanian town of Bagamoyo.

The new port, boasting an annual capacity of 20 million TEU, will not only become Africa’s largest box facility but will also rival the major ports of the Persian Gulf.

Dwarfing Tanzania’s current largest port in Dar es Salaam, which handles an estimated 800,000 TEU a year, the new port, northwest of the capital, will be used as a transhipment hub for raw materials coming in and out of landlocked Malawi, Zambia, Congo, Burundi, Rwanda,and Uganda.

China will also help to establish new road and rail networks in the area, whilst contributing to the upgrade of existing links. Source: Port Technology International.

00013ee0-314The Mozambican police claims that it has seized almost 600 kilos of heroin, at Namoto, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, on the border with Tanzania.

The drugs were found on Sunday in the possession of two citizens of Guinea-Conakry, who are now under detention in the Cabo Delgado, provincial capital, Pemba. The drugs are being stored in the warehouses of the provincial attorney’s office.

According to Malva Brito, the spokesperson of the provincial police command, cited in Wednesday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, the final destination of the heroin was South Africa.

Brito said the drug was concealed in an otherwise empty seven tonne pick-up truck. The Guineans had improvised a type of hold within the truck’s bodywork. But alerted by a strange smell and the odd size of the stowage area, the police searched the truck, and found the heroin in 118 plastic bags of about five kilos each (which is a total of 590 kilos).

When the heroin was found, the Guineans first claimed that it was fertilizer that they were taking to South Africa. When that didn’t work, they tried to bribe the frontier guards, offering them 60,000 US dollars. The bribe was not accepted.

The Guineans had started their journey in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, last Friday, and crossed Tanzania before entering Mozambique. The Toyota pick-up bore a number plate from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and supposedly belongs to a Congolese named Sidiki Sano, who is resident in Mozambique. The owner of the heroin is believed to live in Johannesburg.

If the police figures are accurate, this is an enormous drugs bust. According to the United Nations, heroin was selling in South Africa in 2012 for 35 dollars a gram. So 590 kilos would sell in Johannesburg for 20.65 million dollars. Source: Mozambique News Agency (Agência de Informação de Moçambique).