NEW: Comesa maintains U$2 000 threshold for STR charges

Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter

THE Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) has recommended that the US$2 000 threshold being charged to businesses on every consignment under the regional Simplified Trade Regime should be maintained at that figure.

A Simplified Trade Regime (STR) is an arrangement implemented by Comesa member States to formalise and improve the performance of the small-scale cross border traders enabling them to benefit from the regional preferential treatment when importing or exporting goods within the region.

The current STR threshold was adopted by the Comesa Council of Ministers in 2014.

Recently, the Comesa secretariat conducted a study to review the suitability of the existing STR threshold of US$2 000 per consignment per crossing within the trading bloc.

Comesa is a trading bloc comprising 21-member States that include Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Eswatini, Madagascar, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Comoros, Eritrea, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Egypt, Sudan and Uganda.

“The Comesa Secretariat has conducted a study to review the suitability of the current Simplified Trade Regime (STR) threshold, which stands at US$2 000 per consignment, per crossing.

“Specifically, the study was commissioned to review the current STR threshold value with a view to establishing a suitable level that is capable of effectively facilitating intra-regional trade in member States already implementing the STR and those that will implement it in future,” said Comesa in a statement.

Comesa Secretariat director of Trade and Customs, Dr Christopher Onyango, said apart from enabling small scale cross border traders to benefit from the tariff preferences available under regional integration, the STR has the ingredients to stimulate domestic production and cross-border trade.

“I commend member States who have already initiated bilateral discussions aimed at strengthening the STR regime, including the threshold, reviewing common lists of products and applicable customs documentations, all this is meant to deepen intra-Comesa trade,” he said.

Dr Onyango stated said this during a recent virtual meeting to validate the study conducted by a consultant.

The one-day meeting was attended by senior government officials from targeted member States, border agency officials, representatives from the private sector and small-scale trading communities.

The study involved desk research and stakeholder consultations focusing on the products being traded at the borders, the average value of consignments declared by small scale cross border traders, assessing the suitability of the current STR threshold in facilitating regional trade and integration.

The bloc’s secretariat together with member States have been implementing the STR since 2010. Funded under the 11th European Development Fund (11th EDF), the overall objective of the project is to increase formal small-scale trade flows in the Comesa and tripartite (East African Community-Comesa-Sadc) regions leading to higher government revenue collection at the targeted borders and increased security and incomes for small scale cross border traders.


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