“This means that importers, clearing agents and exporters will be able to clear goods from Kigali without having to travel to Dar es Salaam,” Eng Deusdedit Kakoko, the TPA director general, said in an interview with The New Times last week.
Eng Kakoko added that the move aims at bringing services near to the Rwandan business community, “which will help cut the cost of doing business, and reduce the hurdles within the logistics and supply chain”.
Kakoko said the Liaison office will be a one-stop-centre, where customers can access information, including the status of their cargo, or applicable port charges.
“This is a healthy and supportive development that will help to reduce time and costs, as well as improve the value chain. It also means that the Rwandan business community can make payments through electronic payment system (EPS) and attend to any queries through the Kigali office,” he added.
The move, according to the Treasury Registrar, Lawrence Mafuru, is also clear testimony of the commitment by the Tanzanian government to improve business environment for clients in neighbouring countries, especially for Rwanda.
“We are, therefore, calling on the Rwandan business community to use of this office effectively and take advantage of the cost benefit of doing business through real time information once it starts operations,” Mafuru said. He said the liaison office will also improve service delivery and guard traders against unscrupulous shipping and clearing and forwarding agents.
Statistics indicate that almost 70 per cent of Rwanda’s cargo is handled through Dar es Salaam. In the past, local traders have complained of inefficiency, port congestion and safety at the port. Rwandan importers say the development is an important milestone that will help address some of the challenges they face while using the Central Corridor.
Fred Seka, the Association of Clearing and Freight Forwarders Rwanda chief, said the new office will help enhance efficiency and competitiveness and spur trade.
Dar es Salaam port is by far the most important port for Rwanda, accounting for over 70 per cent of Rwandan international maritime trade. More than 90 per cent of other exports (apart from tea and coffee) go through Dar es Salaam, according to figures from the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
However, statistics indicate that total trade with Tanzania declined to US$68 million in 2015, from US$105 million in 2013. Tanzania is Rwanda’s third largest trading partner in the EAC bloc.