TMSA supports the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite to improve the enabling environment for cross-border private sector activity. The Tripartite’s efforts to upgrade the regional road network infrastructure system, ease congestion and delays at borders and sea ports, and remove tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade are all aimed at doing cross-border business at lower cost and on time. In the Tripartite region, the private sector is both a beneficiary of regional collaboration efforts and a participant in shaping regional integration programmes and projects.
It remains notoriously difficult to trade across borders in Africa. The time between packing a container within the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite region and departure from a seaport to international export destinations takes an average of 31 days and costs USD 1 873. In the EU, by comparison, a container would be on ship in only 11 days at almost half the cost of its African counterpart.
Calculations based on the World Bank’s Doing Business data base indicate that a 30% saving in export times by the countries along the North South Corridor, would result in a material improvement in their overall ease of doing business ratings.
TMSA is working directly with the private sector in the areas of trade, trade facilitation and infrastructure. Information exchange with the private sector is taking place on a pro-active basis and cuts across all areas of work. TMSA regularly informs private sector associations (e.g. COMESA & SADC Business Councils & NEPAD Business Foundation) about opportunities that the programme creates for doing business in the region. TMSA also supports the private sector and cooperates with them for strengthening programme activities. Its working with the private sector can be illustrated in each of its focal areas.
1. Trade-related regional infrastructure
In the area of regional infrastructure, TMSA supports the Tripartite RECs and governments in the design of regional approaches to infrastructure development and in preparation and financing of railways, roads, ports and regional power interconnector improvements. TMSA procures private sector expertise for (i) engineering and other project development services for the design and feasibility studies of infrastructure; (ii) financial transaction advisory services for potential private-public partnership projects; and (iii) civil engineering services for construction of regional infrastructure projects.
2. Trade facilitation
In an effort to make it easier to do business in Africa, the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite launched the Comprehensive Tripartite Trade and Transport Facilitation Programme. This integrated programme comprises harmonisation and / or standardisation of trade and transport facilitation measures such as customs tariff and statistical nomenclatures; customs and legislative procedures; management approaches to border posts; customs documentation; third party motor vehicle insurance schemes; customs bond schemes; axle load and vehicle dimension limits; road user charges regimes; commercial vehicle truck driver immigration requirements and regulations; road transport management systems based; regional corridor management & monitoring systems; etc. Two examples of working with the private sector are with:
- FESARTA which, in turn, has been using its local networks to help monitor performance at border crossings since 2009. In the same vein, TMSA is working with a company supplying global positioning system tracking solutions to trucking companies to track the movements of trucks along the North-South Corridor (NSC) and thereby to help monitor performance of the NSC
- transport associations and operators to contribute to a study on transport market liberalisation in the Tripartite region. They will also be the main beneficiaries of a future harmonised and improved regional transport market regulatory regime.
3. Market access and trade relations
TMSA is providing support to the Tripartite RECs in establishment of a Tripartite Free Trade Agreement (TFTA). The TFTA is not only about conventional issues such as tariff liberalisation and improved rules of origin, but also about the removal of non-tariff barriers (NTBs). Firms reported that NTBs affected one-fifth of regional trade in East and Southern Africa ($3.3 billion in Southern Africa alone). NTBs include those related to customs documentation and administrative procedures; immigration procedures; inspection procedures; transiting procedures; and road blocks.
The COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite, with technical and financial support from TMSA, is implementing a web-based NTB reporting, monitoring and elimination mechanism which incorporates concrete timelines for the removal of NTBs. The private sector has been integral to the design and implementation of the mechanism, which enables (i) public and private stakeholders across the 26 Tripartite member countries to report and monitor NTBs and (ii) NTB national and regional focal points to take action and follow up in real time.
To date, 20 of the 26 Tripartite countries have established public and private sector focal points, as well as National Monitoring Committees (NMCs). NMCs comprise all government ministries and departments, private sector organisations, trade associations and major exporters and importers who are appointed to facilitate resolution of reported barriers against their countries as well as barriers imposed against their businesses.
By February 2012, 72% of reported NTB’s had been resolved through the Tripartite’s NTB mechanism. The diagramme below also depicts the NTBs by country and type. For more information, visit the online NTB System at www.tradebarriers.org
Apart from the importance of tariff and NTBs, in the area of market access, TMSA has helped built regional and national negotiating capacity to influence global sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS) and support country (sector & firm-level) measures to improve compliance with official and retail standards. Specific working with the private sector has included:
- analysis of the poultry value chain in Seychelles in preparation for the country’s accession to the WTO;
- provision of grants and technical assistance to firms or for sectors to help them comply with international & retail standards such as GLOBALGAP.
Support in the area of grants and technical assistance, includes:
- A matching grant to Shoprite/Checkers: to support small-scale fruit and vegetable growers in SA, Swaziland, Namibia and Zambia to comply with their retail standards.
- A grant to the UK-based Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for promoting market access for fishery products from the SADC Region through fishery certification.
- A grant to the Deciduous Fruit Producers Trust for measuring and mitigating the carbon footprint of the South African fruit and wine sector.
- Grants to the National Institute of Fisheries Inspection (INIP) to support the Mozambique fisheries sector to identify, manage and implement standards.
- A grant to UNIDO, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Agriculture in Malawi to build capacity for aflatoxin management and control in groundnuts in Malawi.
- A grant and technical assistance to SADC for a Fruit Fly Project. This project is implemented in 2 SADC countries on a pilot basis.
- A matching grant with Mack Multiples to support smallholder production of Hass avocadoes in Zambia for export to UK retailers.
- A grant and technical assistance is provided to the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Union (SACAU) to support the Southern African agricultural sector to improve its ability to participate in international standards setting bodies aimed at making trade standards work for the poor.
1. Source: Doing Business Database | http://www.doingbusiness.org/
Doing Business measures the time and cost (excluding tariffs) associated with exporting a standardized cargo of goods by ocean transport. The time and cost necessary to complete every official procedure, as well as all documents needed by the trader, are also recorded. Procedures range from packing the goods into the container at the warehouse to their departure from the port of exit. The time and cost for ocean transport are not included.