A TOTAL of 716 out of 796 non-tariff barriers (NTBs) registered in the online reporting system implemented by the three regional economic communities, Comesa, East African Community and the Southern Africa Development Community have been resolved.
According to the latest report by Comesa, only 80 NTBs remain unresolved. Major NTBs include restrictive licensing, permitting, and other requirements applied at the border.
Barriers behind the border, such as unwarranted technical barriers to trade and sanitary and phytosanitary measures are equally prevalent.
The online system is designed to receive online and short message/messaging service (SMS) complaints from public users. It comprises three sub-systems for each regional economic community (REC), which covers the Comesa, EAC and SADC.
Anyone with access to the internet can submit a complaint into the system. Reports on NTBs made on the system are dealt with by National Monitoring Committees (NMCs) and National Focal Points, whose contribution to the resolution and elimination of NTBs in the Tripartite region has been effective.
Comesa’s director of trade and customs, Dr Christopher Onyango, has said that while close to 90 percent of NTBS reported in the tripartite region have been resolved, more collaboration is needed to totally eradicate the remaining ones.
He implored partner/member States, which have not yet established national monitoring committees (NMCs) and designated national focal points to do so as a matter of priority.
“NTBs evolve over time, hence become a single most hindrance to intra-regional trade and an easy option to deter or restrict trade,” said Dr Onyango, quoted in a recent Comesa report.
“They, therefore, require persistent vigilance and commitment by all stakeholders, especially members of the national monitoring committees.”
As the tariff walls come down in the global and regional trading arena, he noted that NTBs continued to thrive and emerge in different forms in the tripartite region.
“This makes your roles very pertinent in managing cross-border and international trade,” he told the delegates during an address of the second virtual meeting of the tripartite NMCs and NTBs focal points on 20 February 2023.
The meeting also discussed the modalities of handing over the hosting and management of the NTBs online reporting system to the tripartite RECs to complete the development of non-tariff measures databases for tripartite member/partner States and further improvements in the system.
The system has been managed by the developer since its inception. The meeting also reviewed the establishment and operationalisation of NTBs institutions for the management and administration of the online NTBs/NTMs systems in the region.
The tripartite NTBs Online and SMS Reporting, Monitoring, and Eliminating system has been operational since 2010 and has remained an effective tool in the resolution of cross-border trade challenges.
The platform was established to support market integration by implementing a harmonised NTBs elimination programme in Comesa, EAC, and SADC tripartite region.