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Greening vows to unblock African trade

[ July 16, 2013   //   ]

International Development Secretary Justine Greening announced a range of measures to help African countries trade internationally on 15 July.

Britain would help 20,000 firms in 15 countries unpick barriers to trade through a new £7.2 million investment in the Geneva-based International Trade Centre. The support will help collect and share data on how permits, regulations and bureaucracy can impact on trade in developing countries.

Two further projects with Nairobi’s TradeMark East Africa will boost growth and job opportunities by cutting the cost and time it takes to move goods in and out of customs and building vital infrastructure across eastern Africa.

The UK would also invest £57.4 million to improve trading in Uganda and Kenya and modernise East Africa’s largest port in Mombasa. Roads on the trade corridor between Uganda and Rwanda would be improved and there would be a ‘one stop’ border post between Uganda and South Sudan to cut customs delays. The measures would cut the time it takes to move containers across Uganda by 40% or 21 hours and cut waiting times at Ugandan customs by 50%, or a day and a half.

Similar measures in Mombasa port would reduce customs clearance time for imported goods by up to one and a half days and cut the time it takes to move a container in or out of Kenya by four days.

The measures could help boost exports in Uganda by £200 million and in Kenya by £530 million by 2016, said Greening.

She said that cumbersome regulations, endless border delays and inefficient customs were “stifling the potential of promising businesses and entrepreneurs across Africa.”

While global trade tariffs are at a historic low after decades of bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations, they are swiftly being replaced with non-tariff measures.

The UN estimates that testing and certification requirements for exports increased by 700% between 2000 and 2009. South African retailer Shoprite spends $20,000 a week on import permits just to ship goods from South Africa to nearby Zambia.

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