Kirehe: The Ministry of Commerce and partner institutions have called upon small-scale traders at the Rwanda-Tanzania border town of Rusumo, to formalize their trade. The call was made by James D. Tayebwa, the Regional Trade Expert at the ministry, who urged the traders to desist from malpractices such as smuggling. He encouraged cross-border traders to deal in goods which are acquired through proper channels and deal in genuine products certified by relevant organizations and are traceable by origin from our neighbouring countries.
"It is the duty of the East African Customs Union to promote cross-border business and sensitize traders to operate within the confines of the law," he noted. "They should be knowledgeable about the EAC Simplified Trade Regime, which is designed to make cross-border trade easier for the small traders to take goods across the border, and enjoy the customs duty free conferred by EAC arrangement".
Stephen Karinganire, the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) Customs Manager at Rusumo, said that the traders should know the privileges of importing goods originating from EAC Partner States. "It is vital that such traders who deal in goods less than $500 in value, to always acquire Simplified Certificate of Origin in order to benefit from customs duty free. Traders should however, stick to using formal routes and authorized borders to avoid losses when caught smuggling goods," he said.
Alexander Bizimana the chairman of Rusumo cross-border traders, a cooperative that acquired its legal status in February 2010, said that the sensitisation would enhance the traders' capacity. He added that they have been working in a more organised way, since they formed the cooperative.
However, Bizimana complained that traders from Rwanda do not get simplified certificates of origin when they import goods from Tanzania.
"A certificate of origin is supposed to be free and accessible at the border but we can't find it on the Tanzanian side, which greatly affects our businesses. Such irregularities should be checked," he said.
Similar sensitization drives are expected to be extended to other border posts; Nyaruguru, Rusizi, Kagitumba, Rubavu and Buziba.