Zimbabwe is among few countries in Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa) and East Africa Community (EAC) that have implemented the Simplified Trade Regime (STR) pilot programme initiated in 2007, it has emerged.
At least ten out of the 19 countries in Comesa had been earmarked for the pilot project.
Other countries that have implemented include Malawi, Zambia through Comesa and Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda under the auspices of the EAC.
To date, Comesa and the cross-border traders associations are able to get statistics of the STR transactions at all the borders in the Southern region.
Ministers and senior government officials from the region last week met to review progress of the project where the need to increase upwards the value threshold of the STR from the current amount of $500 per consignment was discussed as it posed a limitation to the Free Trade Area regime.
“Our guided view though, at Comesa secretariat remains that there is a potential to reach out and benefit more deserving traders where the limit threshold for STR is kept flexible,” Comesa secretary-general Sindiso Ngwenya said.
“We believe that as long as the traders are carrying goods that meet the rules of origin, access to the simplified certificate of origin should be guaranteed and your secretariat is very keen on seeing the STR process work through,” said Eunice Kazembe, Commerce, Trade and Industry minister from Malawi who is also the vice-chairperson of the Comesa council of ministers.
Countries that were represented at the meeting include Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.