Effective custom procedures essential to facilitate trade
May 03, 2016
It is evident that successful integration into the world economy increasingly depends on the realization of a series of complex measures that fall under the heading of trade facilitation. During a World Trade Organisation Roundtable in Kenya last year, Anabel Gonzales, Senior Director of the World Bank Group Global Practice on Trade and Competitiveness, said that these measures include anything from institutional and regulatory reform to customs and port efficiency and are inherently far more intricate and costly to implement.
ICF has been involved in various projects in an effort to modernise customs procedures in African countries in order to facilitate trade.
Prior to ICF’s intervention in Burkina Faso, trade facilitation processes used to be bureaucratic and cumbersome. ICF worked with the Government of Burkina Faso and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry on a trade facilitation project which improved customs administration in the country. As a result of the project, the time it takes for goods to go through the pre-clearance process in Burkina Faso was lowered from 15 days to only three days.
The number of documents required to import goods were reduced from ten to seven, and now only three documents are required for exporting goods compared to the initial ten documents. The project integrated seven government agencies, five private sector agencies, ten banks and five insurance companies in an effort to reduce fraud, forgery and corruption and to increase transparency in the process of issuing the documents necessary for the import and export of goods.
ICF was also involved in a successful project to modernise the Senegalese Customs Authority systems. The previous Senegalese customs clearance system was disorderly as some customs offices operated on manual clearance systems while others worked on different levels of automation. This fragmented situation led to serious delays in customs clearance.
The Modernisation of Customs Authority Project in Senegal facilitated by ICF aimed to reduce the time and cost for custom declaration and the release of goods. The project streamlined, automated and digitized the customs clearance processes and integrated the system into a common electronic trade data platform. The project also introduced a new regulatory and administrative framework for the automated and digitalized customs clearance procedures.
As a result, registration for customs declaration was reduced from two days to a mere 15 minutes. The processing of customs clearance was reduced from 18 days to only one day and processing of goods removal was reduced from three days to two. Customs agreement for the removal of goods can now be issued the same day as the registration of the declaration, provided that there is no dispute.
In Tanzania, customs administration was characterised by multiple procedures, documents and physical inspections. Due to the burden of bureaucracy, Tanzania faced the risk of losing business from neighbouring landlocked countries to other ports including Mombasa in Kenya, Maputo in Mozambique and Durban in South Africa.
ICF worked with the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) to improve the investment climate in the country by modernising its customs administration processes. The project aimed to reduce the costs of importing and exporting goods while improving customs efficiency, transparency, control and risk management.
During the first phase of the project, ICF support laid the foundation for a new customs administration system by doing business process re-engineering of procedures, selecting a supplier of the new system and harmonising procedures between the TRA and the Tanzania Bureau of Standards. In the second phase of the project, ICF is supporting the deployment of the new customs administration software, harmonising customs procedures and training 3,000 stakeholders to use this new system. ICF is also providing support towards efforts to change the perception and attitudes of the business community towards the trade environment in Tanzania.
The Tanzanian project aims to reduce the average time for clearing goods at sea, air and land ports in the country. Goods clearance times at the Port of Dar es Salaam are expected to be reduced from five days to only one day for export goods and from nine to five days for import goods.
Other African countries have shown interest in working with ICFto improve their trade facilitation processes. These includeCape Verde, Ghana and Togo. ICF looks forward to working with these and other countries to reduce the procedures, time and cost of international trade transactions in Africa.
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