Rwanda, Tanzania traders concerned over trade bottlenecks
Rwandan and Tanzanian traders under their respective private sector bodies on Monday expressed concerns over barriers to free trade in both countries in Rwanda's capital city Kigali.
The requirement of work permits for clearing and forwarding agents was a bottleneck to set up offices in Tanzania's capital Dar es Salaam, said Rwandans working in Tanzania at a business forum that brought together 15-member delegation from the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) and their Rwandan counterparts.
Other bottlenecks include denial of Rwandan trucks from transporting agriculture products from Tanzania and less migration working hours, they said.
The meeting was convened to identify policy and regulatory restrictions limiting free movement of goods, services, capital and investment between the two countries that need to be addressed.
While Tanzanian companies in Rwanda complained of 200 U.S. dollars asked by Rwanda from Tanzanian transporters crossing the border and the difficulty of registering a clearing and forwarding company in Rwanda.
Gili Teri, Director of Policy, Research and Lobbying of TPSF, cited what he called joint challenges such as non-harmonized road tolls.
"This brings about a difference in charges when transporting to different regions hence varying costs," said Teri.
Tanzania is Rwanda's third largest trading partner in the East African Community bloc behind Uganda and Kenya, with total trade accounting for 14 percent of Rwanda's trade with EAC, according to Robert Opirah, the Director-General for Trade and Investment in Rwanda's Ministry of Trade, Industry and EAC Affairs.
Opirah stressed the importance of the two countries as trading partners. He said it was necessary for both governments to continue to address the cited challenges in order to facilitate trade.
Rwanda remains committed to seeking practical ways of completely eliminating non-trade barriers in order to facilitate easier trade across borders and the region, Opirah told the forum.
Stephen Ruzibiza, the chief executive of Rwanda's private sector federation, called for good business environment.
We must continuously collaborate, or regularly share views on how best we can collaborate to further make things better, Ruzibiza said.