Government of Sao Tome and Principe, IFC and ICF launch trade facilitation project
September 18, 2013
The Government of Sao Tome and Principe, International Finance Corporation and Investment Climate Facility for Africa jointly launched a trade facilitation project at the Praia Hotel, Sao Tome on September 10th 2013. The main objective of this project is to improve the investment climate in this small island state in the Gulf of Guinea to increase volumes of trade, but also to stimulate investment in key sectors such as agriculture.
The project will strengthen existing customs administration systems and establish a single window for trade over the coming 18 months, integrating all the stakeholders involved in foreign trade transactions. The single window will be an electronic system where traders can submit all export and import documents in one place. “The major challenge will be changing the old habits and mindsets of everyone involved in trade, with client orientation of the public sector as a prospective achievement,” said Mr. Daniel Vaz, Project director.
The event brought together more than 60 participants from the public and private sector. The Government was represented by Ministers of Finance, Agriculture, Commerce and Infrastructure. The private sector was represented by the Chamber of Commerce and included all the project stakeholders. Delegations from the World Bank and IMF, the African Development Bank and accredited diplomats to Sao Tome and Principe were present at the event.
“Ministry of Finance and Planning and other border agencies will all come togetherfor the first time to facilitate foreign trade through the implementation of the Single Window for Foreign Trade,” Helio Almeida, Minister of Planning and Finance and the host of the launch, emphasized.
The introduction of the Single Window for Trade is a great step towards transparency of the public sector, but will also significantly lower costs for the private sector. “We expect that this joint undertaking will lead to greater trade volumes and will stimulate local manufactures, especially agribusiness, to promote the Saotomean products abroad,” pointed out Mr. Jean Philippe Prosper, the IFC Vice-President for Africa, Latin America and Caribbean.
“We believe that we have found a credible partner in the Government of Sao Tome and Principe and we are confident that also public revenues will significantly increase,” said Thomas Fugelsnes, ICF project manager.