On 9th April, 2018, Ministers of Trade and Industry from Uganda and DRC launched the COMESA Simplified Trade Regime (STR) and the commencement of works on the Mpondwe/Kasindi One Stop Border Post to ease cross border trade between the two countries.
The launch of STR at Mpondwe/Kasindi followed the signing of a memorandum of understanding to promote trade, harmonise immigration formalities and ease cross border trade between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in Kasese, Uganda.
Uganda’s Trade Minister Amelia Kyambadde said a large part of trade flows between Uganda and the DR went undocumented and is carried out mostly by small traders. With the signing of the MOU, that is expected to change because under the programme, goods on an approved list with the Simplified Certificate of Origin under COMESA, can enter either country free
of customs duty.
The list includes livestock, grains, vegetables and simple manufactured goods that are up to $2,000 (sh7.4m). Most of these have been goods traded by small traders, especially women. The certificates required to import or export under the programme is filled in at the border post by the trader and are stamped and certified by a customs official there. Minister Kyambadde said, informal trade will be reflected in formal figures, which will aid growth of trade between Uganda and the DRC.
The Simplified Trade Regime (STR) is an arrangement implemented by Member States of COMESA to formalize and improve the performance of the small scale cross border traders and enable them to benefit from the regional preferential treatment when importing or exporting goods within the region.
COMESA developed a Simplified Trade Regime (STR) in order to help curb some of the problems faced by cross border traders. The STR is a simplified trading procedure which enables small traders (with consignments of USD2000 or less) obtain proper documentation to allow them benefit from duty and quota free regime of the COMESA Free Trade Area (FTA).
The STR has three tools as below:-
- A Common List of products between countries: agreed between two countries and revised regularly as appropriate
- A Simplified Certificate of Origin (SCO): issued and stamped by customs official at the border
- A Simplified Customs Document (SCD): a declaration document also used for statistical purposes
- Applied for goods that are intended for sale/business