By Alfred Zacharia
Dar es Salaam — The Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) has revealed details of the eight achievements it recorded during the implementation of the yearlong East Africa Trade Hub (EATH) project in compliance with the regional common market protocol of the East African Community (EAC).
One of the achievements was to reopen rice markets for smallholder farmers in Rwanda and Uganda. This was possible after eliminating the 75 per cent common external tariff (CET).
Briefing journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the TPSF director of policy, Mr Gilead Teri, said the measure was taken after allegations that rice imports from Tanzania were found to be mixed with rice that was imported from Asian countries.
“Rwanda has eliminated the $300 tax on rice imported from Tanzania,” Mr Teri stated, adding that farmers currently export rice to Rwanda and other EAC member countries freely, thanks to an understanding reached through dialogues conducted during the EATH Project.
Another achievement that TPSF celebrates is the directive by President John Magufuli requiring Dar es Salaam Port to operate around the clock.
That presidential directive – which was given during a dialogue conducted with the Tanzania National Business Council (TNBC) recently – has resulted in fast-tracking the clearance of cargo consignments out of customs control and the port, Mr Teri said.
TPSF had been pushing for elimination of the 18 per cent value-added tax (VAT) on ancillary services in the clearance of goods, which was seen an unnecessarily heavy burden on the business community in general.
“Not only were the consequences of the tax on the business community adverse, but the port also saw a significant decrease in consignments passing through it, as business owners opted for alternative ports like Beira and Mombasa,” Mr Teri revealed.
Other achievements are the abolition of various fees and levies related to agriculture; the reduction of tariffs from 5-to-2 per cent on food crops, and from 5-to-3 per cent on cash crops – as well as the exemption of VAT on locally-produced compounded animal feed.
Yet another achievement is the exemption of VAT on capital goods so as to reduce costs of imported machines and accessories used in strategic industries.
Also, the Trade Hub project helped TPSF to influence the Tanzanian government to exempt VAT on fertilised eggs for incubation in support of the domestic poultry sector. “It was not easy to achieve all these developments,” the TPSF policy chief said. “We partnered with different entities – including local and international organisations – to succeed.”
In implementing the Trade Hub Project, TPSF created a partnership with USAID in preparing trade dialogues, meetings, training and research programmes.
In 2017, TPSF successfully held two dialogues with its two counterparts in Kenya and Rwanda: one: on harmonising agendas towards full realisation of the EAC common market – thus further strengthening the private sector – and, two: the elimination of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) that continue to impede growth of trade in the region.
The Hub Project also prepared seven Advocacy Papers and three validation meetings involving 82 private sector leaders. It also successfully conducted four common market update meetings, reaching 138 people, and conducted two peer-to-peer processes involving 49 corporate leaders.
Culled from The Citizen