The African Union (AU) is intent on advancing intra-continental trade. This became clear during the Eighth
meeting of the African Union Sub-Committee of Directors General (AUSCDG) of Customs held in Harare last Monday.
The theme of the gathering was: ‘’From Barriers to Bridges-Implementing One-Stop Border Posts for Improved Trade Facilitation.’’
Heads of customs agencies in Africa, representatives from Regional Economic Communities (RECs), World Customs Organisation (WCO), African Development Bank (AfDB), and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), among others, attended the meeting.
AUSCDG noted in a statement that the meeting discussed the African Union’s important agenda of creating a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) within the framework of Boosting Intra African Trade (BIAT) for economic growth and development on the African Continent.
“The significance of OSBP (one stop border post), as a concept for removing barriers to trade at border posts was therefore highlighted as a trade facilitation measure that would speed up the establishment of the CFTA,” it said.
Happias Kuzvinzwa, the Acting Commissioner General of Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), in his opening address, recalled the theme of the meeting and admitted that it is in line with the current economic trends in Africa.
He pointed out that borders by nature, divide countries and act as frontiers between countries. Kuzvinzwa also mentioned that the theme places emphasis on the removal of barriers, borders and boundaries to form bridges that connect countries.
He emphasised that building bridges allows connectivity, which he said links people-to-people, eases border congestion, ensures smooth movement of both human and vehicle traffic across borders and in turn increases trade relations between nations.
Kuzvinzwa also raised some of the challenges faced by customs administrations. He suggested that the establishment of Single Window Systems, coupled with one-stop border posts, would go a long way in promoting efficiency and reducing time and cost for traders.
“Cross-Border Cooperation is one of the solutions to some of the challenges that customs administrations face in the discharge of their mandates,” Kuzvinzwa underscored.
Kumio Mikuriya, the Secretary General of WCO, thanked Zimbabwe for the warm welcome and expressed the readiness of his organisation to assist and support the country’s initiatives launched in the framework of reform and modernisation through human resources capacity building.
He highlighted the importance of data collection, data exchange and data analysis and urged the meeting to share best practices and promised that the meeting’s outcomes will be incorporated into the WCO’s capacity building programmes.