On Thursday 21st June, 2018, the Minister of State for Cooperatives Hon. Frederick Ngobi Gume launched the Simplified Trade Regime (STR) at Goli border post in Nebbi district. The STR is an arrangement implemented by Member States of COMESA to formalize and improve the performance of the small scale cross border traders and enable them to benefit from the regional preferential treatment when importing or exporting goods within the region.
COMESA developed a Simplified Trade Regime (STR) in order to help curb some of the problems faced by cross border traders. The STR is a simplified trading procedure which enables small traders (with consignments of USD2000 or less) obtain proper documentation to allow them benefit from duty and quota free regime of the COMESA Free Trade Area (FTA).
In his speech, the minister noted that the STR is critical in promoting Cross Border Trade between Uganda and DRC in line with the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two Countries in April 2018 in Kasese District.
He however cautioned the cross border traders that application of the STR only relieves traders of import duty for goods of value $2000 and below and originating from the members states on the agreed common list of products. Other taxes such as; VAT and withholding taxes apply.
In the same vein the Minister launched the Joint Border Committee for Goli to enhance coordination among the Ministries Departments, Agencies and the business community.
Major products that Uganda exports to DRC through Goli
- Dry cassava and cassava flour
- Fish (salted , smoked and silver fish)
- Vegetables (amaranth, egg plant, okra etc)
- Grains and pulses (g nuts, beans, maize)
- Manufactured products (construction materials like cement, iron bars, iron sheets, beers, bottled water etc)
Uganda’s major imports from Congo through Goli
- Agricultural products mainly Irish potatoes, cabbages, tomatoes, onions, ovacado, Matooke, yellow bananas
- Palm oil
Implementation of the Simplified Trade Regime (STR) at Goli
- According to the Trade Information Desk Officer at Goli border George Orochi, STR currently applies to only agricultural products. Agricultural products worth $2,000 and below do not pay import duties under the STR arrangement.
- Manufactured products worth $2,000 and below are still paying import duty because the required document – the Certificate of Origin that is issued by URA is not available at the border.
- Simplified documents for conducting business at the border like simple customs documents are not yet available
- Challenges that cross border traders faced before the Ministry of Trade intervened through the GLTF ProjectAccording to the Chairperson of Goli Cross Border Traders Association Orombi John, the traders still face the following problems;
- Extortion and lack of information on border procedures and government regulations on cross border trade
- Police road blocks coupled with harassment
- Disunity among traders from Uganda and DRC
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