FtF update June 3 - 14, 2013

Published on June 14, 2013

The East Africa (EA) Trade Hub carries out a number of activities every week in support of bilateral and regional FtF efforts.  Activities from June 3 – June 14, 2013 included:

East African Community (EAC) Trade Helpdesk trainings and awareness meetings in Rwanda and Burundi

The EA Trade Hub supported the EAC in facilitating national Trade Helpdesk (THD) workshops in Rwanda and Burundi on June 4-5, 2013 for public and private sector users. The THD national training sessions were designed to create awareness and equip participants with skills on how to use the THD portal in their daily work. These workshops followed similar trainings in Tanzania and Kenya on May 28 and 30, 2013. A final workshop in Uganda is expected later this month.

Participants learned how efficient the THD can be in obtaining information and data that might otherwise be difficult to source. For instance, with the THD, ministries of trade are now able to monitor trade flow of commodities of special interest to their country and assess their market performance in the EAC.  Participants from the private sector were happy to learn that with the THD, they can assess the EAC market potential at product level by using the THD to compare exports to EAC countries to exports outside the EAC.  A representative from the Kenya Association of Manufacturers said of the THD, “the EA Trade Hub is leaving behind a tangible product for EAC in form of the THD Portal that will revolutionize the way we do business, saving so many man-hours initially spent looking for information on EAC market size and tariffs at product level.”

The THD was designed to fill key information gaps on trade policies and trade statistics. The first phase of the THD development is complete and ready for utilization. It contains trade statistics (imports and exports) for the period 2008 and 2012, to suit various categories of users – policymakers, private sector traders and researchers. The portal also contains import duties that are levied on goods originating from within and outside the EAC. The Portal was designed as a tool for facilitating trade by providing tariff and Rules of Origin requirements for products. Thus, it enables an importer/exporter to search for applicable tariffs and rules of origin as they make decisions about exportation/importation of a given product. The THD also allows Partner States to assess their trade performance and market opportunities through trade flow statistics that the system avails at a highly aggregated level or product level.

The EAC plans further improvements in preparation for the official launch of the THD portal in September 2013.

EA Trade Hub registers participants RADDEx 2.0 pilot

From June 6-11, 2013, the EA Trade Hub launched a mass registration program for a pilot of the Revenue Authority Digital Data Exchange (RADDEx) 2.0 clearance and forwarding (C&F) module. This pilot is a small-scale experiment with a controlled group of C&F agents who will confirm the systems feasibility and allow for system developers to create counter measures to preclude any adverse events in the systems architecture prior to a full-scale rollout of the platform.  The team also worked with Association Burundaises des Agences en Douanes Transitaires (ABADT), Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (KIFWA), Association Des Agences en Douane au Rwanda (ADR), Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association (TAFFA) and Uganda Freight Forwarders Association (UFFA) and to identify the Chief Executive Officers of leading cargo clearing firms that are actively involved in transacting business across East Africa’s key borders namely Namanaga, Sirarai/Isebania, Malaba, Busia, Gatuna/Katuna, Rusumo, Kabanga/Kobero and Kanyaru/Akanyaru. The EA Trade Hub team will visit the five EA countries where they will demonstrate the benefits of RADDEx 2.0 and guide the firms on how to register with the Revenue Authority for the pilot.  The team has also prepared a registration kit that includes a RADDEx 2.0 Users Manual. This will be distributed regionally.

Donor coordination meeting - streamlining transit and border work in East Africa

The EA Trade Hub recently presented a summary of USAID East Africa’s transit and border work to a multi-donor coordination meeting held in Nairobi on June 4, 2013. Presentations were also made by the East African Community (EAC), World Bank, African Development Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Trademark East Africa, and the International Organization on Migration.  The aim of these donor coordination meeting is for donors and partners working in the EAC region to better coordinate activities and to keep all other donors up-to-date on activity progress and possible areas for collaboration.  The Trade Hub’s presentation focused on USAID’s support to the roll out of RADDEx 2.0 and the promotion of Joint Border Committees at each domestic border post. Both initiatives are aimed to help reduce the time and cost of crossing regional borders.  Several of the other donors focused on the progress of one-stop border posts (OSBP) at a number of key borders between Kenya and Uganda and Kenya and Tanzania.  JBCs are an important first step of coordination for OSBPs.

EA Trade Hub attends East African Grain Council (EAGC) Tanzania’s Agribusiness Expo 2013 in Arusha, Tanzania

EA Trade Hub is attending a two-day Agribusiness Expo organized by the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) at the Selian Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) in Arusha, Tanzania from June 14-15.

The theme of the expo is “Future of Agribusiness; Pathways to Commercialization.”  It brings together key players in the agro industry including agro dealers, farm implements traders, food processors, players in the financial sector including banks, insurance companies and research institutions among others. Participants will exchange views on interventions for enhancing the capacity of agribusinesses to create and raise earnings through sustainable agribusiness development. EAGC will take the opportunity to train farmers on the recently harmonized East African Community Grain Standards.

Eastern Africa Grain Council donor coordination meeting

The East Africa Trade Hub hosted a donor coordination meeting at the Trade Hub office on Thursday, June 6th, 2013 to discuss how to better coordinate the various streams of donor funds intended to support the multi activities of the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC). Attending the meeting were staff from USAID/East Africa, Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), the Trade Hub and EAGC. AGRA, also a supporter of the EAGC, was unable to attend but hopes to be able to be included in future coordination meetings.

The EAGC currently has several proposal processes underway for USAID (AIIM), the Trade Hub and SIDA and, as longstanding partners of EAGC, USAID and SIDA are keenly interested in coordinating all donor efforts. It is hoped that by meeting and discussing coordination, donors will  (1) gain a better understanding of EAGC’s operational plan to advance the organization’s 2013-2017 Strategic Plan; and (2) work together to clarify EAGC expectations for future potential partnerships.

All donors and EAGC expressed the necessity of harmonizing the various grant requirements and processes from the different donor organizations in order for EAGC to meet their membership services objectives. It was agreed that a follow-up meeting would be held before the end of June with EAGC tasked with coming up with specific scenarios on how to staff and fund overlapping activities.

EA Trade Hub discusses rapid assessments of health vulnerabilities across East Africa.

On June 5, 2013, the EA Trade Hub met with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) at their offices in Nairobi. IOM is currently carrying out six rapid health assessments across East Africa. The assessments seek to assess and document the health vulnerabilities, as well as the availability, acceptability and accessibility of health services for the different population groups around One Stop Border Posts (OSBP). Research sites within the OSBP study include, Uganda/Rwanda (Kagitumba-Mirama Hills) - 14-20 June 2013, Rwanda/Uganda (Gatuna-Katuna) - 24 -28 June 2013, Tanzania/Mozambique (Mtambaswala-Negomano) - 20 -24 June 2013, Tanzania/Zambia (Tunduma-Nakonde) - 14-18 June 2013, Burundi/Tanzania (Kober-Kabanga) - 27-30 June 2013, and South Sudan/Uganda (Nimule-Elegu) - 8 -12 June 2013.

The Trade Hub would like to collaborate with IOM on border work. This meeting set the stage for doing so.