REMARKS FOR THE 3RD MINEAC-PRIVATE SECTOR QUARTERLY BREAKFAST SESSION UNDER THE THEME: ACCELERATING THE REMOVAL OF NON-TARIFF BARRIERS ALONG THE CENTRAL CORRIDOR
HON. VALENTINE RUGWABIZA, MINISTER-MINEAC
23TH April, 2014
CHAIRMAN OF THE PRIVATE SECTOR FEDERATION;
CHAIRMAN OF THE EABC, RWANDA CHAPTER;
BOARD MEMBERS OF THE PRIVATE SECTOR FEDERATION;
ACTING CEO, PRIVATE SECTOR FEDERATION;
MEMBERS OF THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY;
MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA FRATERNITY;
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN;
Allow me to express my great pleasure to be with you again at this, 3rd private sector breakfast session. I am happy to see familiar faces in the room. I always look forward to these opportunities to engage with you all and learn from you. For this session, I will update you on the new and emerging opportunities that we should take advantage of; secondly, it is important that we discuss the challenges you face while trading across borders, especially on the Central Corridor; thirdly and most importantly, I would like to leave this room with concrete proposals and solutions to unlock the challenges in order to sustain and improve the growth of our businesses.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Government is committed to deepening the reform agenda in order to continuously support private sector to thrive. This is central to our vision – a crucial component of EDPRS II is economic transformation, with the Private Sector at the centre of this transformation. While we have made important gains in the ease of doing business, the costs of production and trade, including cross-border trade remain high in Rwanda. For landlocked/land-linked countries such as Rwanda, transport costs accounts for about 30 to 40 % of the prices of goods, and this has a negative impact on our competitiveness.
This is why our Government, working very closely with our sister countries of the Northern Corridor of EAC (Uganda and Kenya) – is spearheading efforts to accelerate the implementation of EAC projects, which have already started to make an impact on the costs of doing business and increase business opportunities.
There a few projects that deserve mention, and they include: the implementation of the Single Customs Territory, on both Northern and Central Corridors; the One Network Area; full operationalization of a number of One Stop Border Posts; Free Movement of ordinary citizens and business people with IDs, etc. All these projects are already making a significant impact to businesses and citizens.
As you may all be aware, the Central Corridor is an important corridor for Rwanda’s trade as it accounts for over 60% of the regional trade. Therefore, initiatives aimed at improving the Central Corridor will have a direct impact on Transport Costs, thus contribute to the reduction of the cost of doing business in and with Rwanda.
Last month, on 25th and 26th March 2015, Tanzania hosted the first ever Presidential Roundtable and Investor Forum for the Central Corridor. The Central Corridor is a multimodal trade and transport corridor which covers the United Republic of Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Heads of State from these partner countries met to assess and seek for ways to accelerate the implementation of select Infrastructure projects along the Central Corridor. In his keynote address during the high level industry and investors forum, President Kagame called for the kind of leadership that focuses on coordination and results. He underscored the importance of an engaged leadership, and frequent consultations at the highest level to help drive focus and results. To quote the President: “political will, needs to be translated into tangible results.” He further added “Momentum has value of its own. The important thing is to get started, keep moving, and build from there.”
Tanzania also committed its support towards the swift implementation of the infrastructure projects and reiterated the call to enhanced regional cooperation to realize the objectives. Tanzania further committed to the complete elimination of NTBs along the Corridor to the Port of Dar es Salaam.
These were not just statements! There was a call to action and renewed commitment to deepening and accelerating regional integration. That is why I believe in continuous engagement with you – the captains of Industry in order to keep moving and take advantage of this new momentum. We therefore have to move fast together and take advantage of the opportunities presented.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to update you on recent huge infrastructure projects committed to at the recent Central Corridor Presidential Roundtable:
• Construction of a new Standard Gauge Railway from Dar to Rwanda, Burundi, DRC and Uganda – launch scheduled in June 2015
• Expansion of the Port of Dar es Salaam (Berth 13 and 14);
• Development of new Inland Container Depots (ICDs) away from the City centre – to decongest the port & boost efficiency
In addition to the above, a number of trade facilitation measures along the central Corridor aimed at making it easier to trade across borders have been implemented:
• Single Customs Territory was launched in June 2014 and since August 2014 Rwanda deployed its customs officials at Dar es Salaam Port.
• Transit time has been reduced from 10 to 6 days from Dar-es-Salaam to Kigali.
• Weighbridges have been reduced in Tanzania from 8 to 7
• Police Road Blocks have been reduced to 8 in 2014, from 53 roadblocks in 2010.
• Harmonization of Rwanda and Tanzania road tolls to $152 from $500 – reducing transit costs for Rwandan traders.
• Rwanda and Tanzania launched a new Rusumo International bridge and an OSBP yet to be operationalized.
• Introduction of Electronic Cargo tracking system for all types of cargo and a result, trucks no longer stop at all 4 revenue check points along the corridor.
• Operationalization of the Ruhwa and Nemba OSBPs.
The end goal with the above initiatives and efforts is the complete elimination of remaining NTBs and NTMs on the Central Corridor; to drastically reduce transport costs; improve the turnaround time for trucks; and finally, translate these gains and improvements into price reduction in our domestic market as well as boost our manufacturing and export competitiveness.
The question I have to you all is: are these measures working for you? Have they made a difference to your businesses? I am keen to hear your views on this later this morning.
I am also keen to hear your perspectives on the remaining challenges along the central corridor. I am reliably informed that you continue to face a number of NTBs including: existence of several weighbridge stations, weighing of empty trucks; insecurity; and unrecognized standards by the United Republic of Tanzania.
I would like to assure you of our unwavering commitment to seeking practical ways of completely eliminating NTBs and NTMs in order to facilitate easier trade across our borders and region. The Ministry will continue to engage bilaterally with the partner countries and at EAC level. I am pleased to inform you that the recently approved Act on NTBs is a timely piece of binding legislation that will foster timely compliance to commitments at regional level. We are ready to apply it to unlock challenges and boost trade.
As I conclude my remarks, let me once again reiterate my call to all of us to take advantage of this new momentum. I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to all of you for sparing your valuable time to be part of this breakfast engagement, and for your dedication to the advancement of the EAC integration agenda. I wish to particularly thank the Private Sector Federation for organizing this important session.
I look forward to the discussions to follow and wish you all continued business success.
Thank for your Kind attention!