Regional business community push for trade facilitation in amid COVID-19
The regional business community, under the umbrella of the COMESA Business Council (CBC) have urged Member States to facilitate the movement of transit essential cargo across the region through pre-clearance and/or prompter clearance and reduction of risk of infections at the border posts.
This is one of the recommendations contained in a position statement issued by the CBC recently that called for the establishment of a common framework to facilitate movement of essential goods and services along the border corridors in the region, while implementing measures against the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
In the statement the Business Council calls for a clear guideline for testing and quarantining truck drivers across the borders, including risk-based quarantine approach that does not exceed a 24-hour period for providing tests results. Increased customs coordination and interfaces will ensure swifter processing of goods and services at the border to reduce clearance times.
CBC urged Member States to consider alternative and practical measures for the movement of cargo across the region such as allowing goods to be transported by a limited number of persons and put in place regulations for truck drivers to have limited interactions with people.
The business council further recommends for the adoption of strategic efforts and actions that directly address issues of ensuring the smooth and timely movement of essential goods and services in the region. A common framework is essential to address issues including classification of essential goods and services by HS Code to ensure uniformity and Harmonization across the countries.
With regard to facilitating the movement of transit cargo across the region, the business community proposes the implementation of instant border measures inquiry, reporting and monitoring platform consisting of border management authorities from each Member State to facilitate the speedier resolution of impediments and barriers to the movement of essential goods and services in COMESA.
The business community is cognizant of the role of specific borders and ports in facilitating intra- Africa and intra-regional trade and therefore has advised Member States to consider a tripartite and continental approach.