KIGALI, Rwanda-The East African Community (EAC) secretariat has convened a meeting of the Single Customs Territory (SCT) aimed at reviewing export process, procedure manuals for the different member states.
The five-days meeting scheduled from March 25 to March 29th in Dar Es Salaam, is attended by members of different technical working groups from five Revenue authorities include Rwanda Revenue Authority, Uganda Revenue Authority, Kenya Revenue Authority, Burundi Revenue Authority and the hosts Tanzania Revenue Authority. The South Sudan is not represented in this technical meeting.
In his opening remarks the Chairman of the meeting Mr. Mubiru Salim from Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) recommended the efforts of the partner states and applauded them for what has been achieved in the last 3 and 1/2 years. He also called upon the team to focus on the objectives of the meeting in the next six days and have outputs that are measurable by the end of the meeting.
Accordingly to Drocelle Mukashyaka, Rwanda Revenue Authority’s (RRA) Deputy Commissioner in charge of Taxpayer Services, and member of Capacity Building and Change Management Technical working Group, the meeting is expected to; “Review implementation of the SCT export process, including piloting and full rollout, update the SCT Procedures manual to take into account new changes including electronic certificate of origin, temporary importation of vehicles at border crossings, transhipment reports and notifications, electronic documents and movement of goods on standard gauge railway among others.”
“We shall also review and develop change management and capacity building interventions to include developments that have taken place with regard to the SCT over the last 3 years, because this serves the key points during our awareness campaigns on Single Customs Territory implementation” Drocelle added.
The Single Customs Territory (SCT) is a stage towards the full attainment of the Customs Union attainable by the removal of duties and other restrictive regulations and/or minimisation of internal border customs controls on goods moving between Partner States with an ultimate realization of free circulation of goods. The SCT aims at improving clearance times, reducing the cost of doing business, enhancing application of cross border ICT systems and improving coordination of the private and public sector agencies among others.
The East African Community has been implementing the Single Customs Territory (SCT) progressively since 2014. During the Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (SCTIFI) meeting of 17th November 2017, Partner States were directed to roll out the export regime by February 2018. In preparation for the rollout, the EAC Secretariat convened a meeting of the Technical Working Group on ICT in January 2018 to develop and test the programs necessary for operationalisation of the Single Customs Territory Export regime.
It is notable that since 2013 a lot of changes have taken place with regard to the SCT procedures and some assumptions made at the initial stage of implementing the SCT have either been overtaken by changes in the supply chain or by new Customs projects such as the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) programme, Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking systems among others.