Rwanda meets Uganda over NTBs
Officials in Rwanda’s department of external trade at the Ministry of Trade and commerce have been meeting their Ugandan counterparts over non-trade barriers (NTBs).
Yesterday’s meeting held in Kigali has been a follow up to one held in January this year which identified key barriers affecting cross border trade between the two countries.
Though East Africa member states are trying to forge a way of having easy and undisturbed trade among them, there are barriers that are not related to financial requirements that continue to inconvenience regional traders.
It’s official that NTBs cost traders between 30 to 40 percent of all trade costs, a very high cost to bear.
“We have held too many meetings taken too many cups of coffee and slept in various beautiful hotels, yet these barriers still remain, it’s high time we talk more of solutions and I hope this meeting does just that,” stated Kassim Omar with the Uganda National Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
The most important barrier Rwanda wants her Ugandan counterparts to address is the number of stoppages Rwandan traders have to make between Gatuna and Kampala for example.
According to Rwanda’s Vincent Safari, there are four stops made in one route which is too many considering the time wasted at each stop point. These stops are mostly for weighing trucks, security and others.
The Ugandan delegates were put on the spot to provide a report on the progress.
“What we are planning to do is having just two checks, one at the entry and the other and final one at the exit, this we think should be able to address this impediment,” said Silver Ojakol, the Commissioner of External Trade in Uganda’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and cooperatives.
However, the meeting also noted that, Rwandan and Ugandan Trucks are fond of committing traffic offences in the frame of driving road unworthy vehicles which compel the police to stop them for road safety concerns.
“For example, on our way to Rwanda, we met a Rwandan truck stopped and we were curious to know why but on inquiry we were told the owner had been warned before over bad tyres a concern he had refused to address,” noted Ojakol.
On their part, Uganda has always rued over Rwanda’s insistence on charging a flat fee of US$76 for trucks and US$ 152 for pulling trucks and semi-trailers into the country which Ugandan traders say is not fair.
In response, Rwanda announced that it has listed the barrier as a regional barrier rather than a bilateral one between Rwanda and Uganda because even other partner states have rued over it.
A previous high level meeting held in Nairobi early this year recommended that partner states should address bilateral barriers as a way of speeding up the reduction of NTBS in the region.
“Unless we address these NTBS, our people will not benefit from the free cross border trade that we wish them for,” anchored Kassim.