Business lobby wants Mutukula one-stop border post operational

29Jan 2022
By Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Business lobby wants Mutukula one-stop border post operational

​​​​​​​STAKEHOLDERS have appealed for the full operationalisation of the Mutukula one-stop border post between Tanzania and Uganda for trade facilitation.

Officials need to be deployed to ensure 24 hours services on the Uganda side as customs agencies on the Tanzania side offer 24hrs services but on the Uganda side, only the immigration department operates around the clock at the border post.

Joseph Cosmas, an official from the Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (TCCIA) made this appeal at an open dialogue between public and private sector stakeholders, organized by the East African Business Council (EABC) and TradeMark East Africa (TMEA).

At the discussion convened at the Mutukula OSBP yesterday, he said the import ban on maize from Uganda by Tanzania is affecting the competitiveness and growth of intra-EAC trade. Trucks carry export products to Uganda and return empty, instead of bringing back to Tanzania the harvested maize during the deficit season.

Moses Kadera, the chairman of the Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association (TAFFA) said the excise tax on rice was increased by Uganda from 6 percent to 13 percent paralysed trade on the produce at the border post.

Such barriers risk promoting unnecessary business rivalry and retaliatory restrictions at the expense of the wider East African public, he declared.

Eugenia Mwesiumo, an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation lauded the dialogue event for coming up with energetic solutions to facilitate cross-border trade.

Benuza Jane, the chairperson of the women cross-border traders cooperative based at Mutukula on the Uganda side, called for the full operationalisation of the EAC simplified trade regime protocol, reporting that no list of the most commonly traded goods, covered by the protocol, is found at the border post.

She dwelt on the need for harmonization of COVID-19 response measures, explaining that during the lockdown families broke up and businesses collapsed. Women cross-border traders opted to do business on the Tanzania side due to the lockdown on the other side of the border, apart from the 14-day quarantine requirement on the Uganda side, she stated.

Charles Omusana, a Ugandan principal economist for investment and private sector promotion at the EAC Secretariat, said that border agencies have a duty to ensure benefits of EAC integration are felt by citizens and intra-EAC trade thrives.

Matia Etedu of the Ugandan Ministry of EAC Affairs said the ministry is deeply committed to promoting intra-regional trade, asserting that non-tariff barriers (NTBs) bottlenecks will be quickly resolved.

International Trade Centre (ITC) data for 2020 indicated that Tanzania goods exports to Uganda reached $743.6m while imports stood at $95.1 million.

The EABC-TMEA public-private dialogue at Mutukula OSBP attracted around 50 participants from foreign affairs ministries, trade facilitation agencies, importers, exporters, transporters, women cross-border traders and the Eastern African sub-regional support initiative for the advancement of women (EASSI).

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