Rwanda launched the National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) in Kigali at the Grand Legacy Hotel, today. This is in line with the provisions of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). Rwanda submitted a notification to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2015 outlining the provisions of the TFA they intend to implement once the agreement comes into force.
The NTFC will oversee implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation and will advise and support government in undertaking interventions that enhance business competitiveness and ease of doing business in Rwanda. This will consequently reduce challenges faced by exporters and importers in the country. The committee will ensure that institutions and all stakeholders responsible for controls and procedures related to importation, exportation and transit of goods work together and coordinate trade related activities. It brings together the Private sector, civil society and Public sector representatives as well as trade related service suppliers to discuss issues of trade and trade related policies/measures and agree on better approaches to reform, improve and learn from experiences.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry will chair the committee and will be deputised by the Rwanda Revenue Authority as a key implementing agency. For effective coordination, the committee will have a secretariat to support the committee on daily basis.
The NTFC will play a leading role in developing Rwanda’s road map for the implementation of the trade facilitation agenda along the provisions of Trade Facilitation Agreement and will be instrumental in synergizing the various trade facilitation perspectives across the country including outreach programme to sensitize stakeholders.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Honourable KANIMBA François presided over the event and in his address emphasised that, “the government is committed to resolving challenges faced by exporters and importers in Rwanda on a daily basis especially burdensome procedures, time consuming processes in export and import, delays at the borders and any transparency trade related constraints”. The newly formed committee will lead us in alleviating these issues by fast tracking and advising on interventions that will create fast, reliable and cost effective trade environment for all.”
Rwanda has been a champion for trade reforms. With its strategic partner, TradeMark East Africa, the government has already implemented a number of trade facilitation interventions. Such include the Rwanda Electronic Single Window, which has enabled faster clearance of imports and exports in addition to improving efficiency, transparency and accountability in revenue collection. The construction of One Stop Border Posts at key entry and exit points which have reduced time taken to exit the border, elimination of Non Tarrif Barrier along transport corridors and support to selected industries to build their capacity enabling them access export markets. These interventions have been cited by the Doing business report of the World Bank as key contributors to improving Rwanda’s ranking in ease of doing business index, where it was cited as a top 3 African easiest places to do business in 2015. The World Bank Doing Business Report, 2015, ranked Rwanda 46th out of 189 countries from 143 in 2008, signalling a significant improvement in the trade regulatory environment in the Country.
While giving her remarks at the launch, TMEA Country Director, Patience Mutesi, commented that, “TMEA continues to support Rwanda and the East African Community Partner States in improving its business environment by responding to the needs of government and the private sectors as the main beneficiaries. One of the key areas we are looking to support the NTFC in is development of an implementation plan and project proposals of new bankable projects that will bridge identified gaps for Rwanda to comply with its obligations under the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. A key area that we are looking to for example is the developments of trade information portals that will enable availability of information to the public and any potential investor into Rwanda.”
The NTFC will also be overseeing and supervising the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement at the national level as well as at regional and multilateral levels and to constantly monitor and evaluate the performance of Trade Facilitation in Rwanda.
The dedicated working groups are constituted of a small number of experts from relevant institutions to deal with specific technical matters in the TF implementation process and will meet on a monthly basis and inform the NTFC on any matter arising from the implementation process for decision making.
The NCTF was launched after a three-day training and awareness workshop of the committee members held in Kigali to build its capacity and skills to ensure all members are well equipped to deal with the assigned responsibilities and deliver on the expected results.