Rwanda, Tanzania plan to eliminate NTBs along Central corridor

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Valentine Rugwabiza, Rwanda’s EAC minister

 

Rwanda and Tanzania are seeking ways of eliminating non-tariff barriers along the Central corridor, one of the key trade corridors within the great lakes region.

According to Valentine Rugwabiza, Minister of East African Community (MINEAC), the corridor plays a central role in Rwanda’s trade and that the elimination of the NTBs will help reduce on high transport costs and save time wastage along the corridor, ingredients needed to leapfrog the central African country into a middle income economy by 2020.

The World Bank’s Doing business report 2015 indicates that Rwanda’s transport costs are still higher compared to the Sub-Saharan standard, with the country spending average US$ 4,990 to import a 20ft container, compared to the sub Saharan average of US$ 2,504.

Indeed, the Minister noted that although there have been steps to improve the country’s trade,the costs of production as well as trade continue to   hurt the economy that   grew by 8 percent by end of December, 2014.

Preferred by most traders, the Central Corridor is a multimodal trade and transport corridor which covers the United Republic of Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and accounts for 60% of the regional trade.

Rwanda currently uses two corridors from the sea, the Northern Corridor that runs from Mombasa through Kampala and to Kigali while the other is Central corridor.

But the central corridor has been characterized with non-tariff barriers like unnecessary road blocks, delays and thefts at the port and in the hinterland, weigh bridges, issues that have impeded transport along the corridor.

But with the willingness of the two countries to tackle the NTBs, there is optimism that transport along the corridor will be eased thus boost trade within the region.

“We are happy that   Tanzania has taken steps to address the current challenges along the corridor,” said Vincent Safari, National Monitoring Committee Coordinator in Rwanda’s Ministry of East Africa Community.

The development comes after Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete announced, during the 1stCentral Corridor Presidential Roundtable and Investor Forum held in Dar es Salaam in March 2015, the construction of a new Standard Gauge Railway from Dar to Rwanda, Burundi, DRC and Uganda.

The Heads of State from the partner countries met to assess and seek for ways to accelerate the implementation of select Infrastructure projects along the Central Corridor, Safari noted.

Meanwhile, the expansion of the Port of Dar es Salaam (Berth 13 and 14) and the development of new Inland Container Depots (ICD) are some of the other infrastructural development projects currently being undertaken by partner states to boost trade efficiency.