Kampala — The trade ministry, supported by TradeMarkEast Africa (TMEA) has commissioned an NTB Reporting System.
This incorporates a mobile phone and email-based system that will ease reporting and enable resolution of reported Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs).
Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) continue to present a serious challenge to regional trade and integration in East Africa.
They account for a significant proportion of the high transportation costs in the EAC, which are estimated to be 60-70% higher than in the U.S. or Europe, and 30% higher than in Southern Africa.
These barriers drive up business costs of importing and exporting goods, make business globally uncompetitive, and increase prices to consumers across the entire region.
Amelia Kyambadde, the Minister said, they are working closely with partner institutions in government and the private sector to ensure t responsible officers from the respective agencies of the government are trained to handle complaints in a timely manner.
"Currently, selected officers from eight government ministries, departments and agencies have been trained and provided with equipment to receive, investigate and address all reported NTBs," she said
The system will be a direct avenue for the private sector to report NTBs and the public sector to respond promptly to ensure their resolution and or elimination and will also enable clearing agents report NTBs on time which will quicken responsiveness to needs of the business community.
Kyambadde said NTB reporting tool utilizes two platforms for reporting which are the SMS function and the emailing function.
"Traders will not need to own smart phones to use this system. They only need to be connected to MTN, UTL, Warid, Airtel or Orange to make you a report by dialling *201# and to quicken the process of eliminating the NTBs, a report made is simultaneously shared between the Ministry, and the MDA for immediate elimination," she said
Allen Asiimwe, the Country Director, Trademark East Africa said, "Trade Mark East Africa is very passionate about increasing trade in the region. One of the key areas of focus is enhancing trade environment which includes eliminating Non-Tariff Barriers. Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives has achieved a big milestone today. With this reporting system, traders should be able to report that will be quickly resolved."
The government and TMEA signed an MOU in March 2012 to implement the National Response Strategy for Elimination of NTBs (NRSE-NTB) project to a tune of $1,400,000 for three years April 2012 to April 2015.
The key strategic interventions include Establishment of an Information Exchange Facility, Re-alignment of national laws and regulations, Implementation of an NTB elimination and communication advocacy strategy.