U. S. Government Statement at the Opening of the Tanzania Trade Development Authority Joint Border Committee Meeting

Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Reducing time and cost of transporting goods across borders of East Africa

Designated VIPs

  • Hon. Dr. Abdallah Kigoda (MP) –  Minister for Industry and Trade
  • Dr. Florence Turuka – Permanent Secretary Prime Minister’s Office
  • Mr. Daniel Moore – Acting Director USAID/Tanzania
  • Mrs. Jacqueline Maleko - Director General, Tanzania Trade Development Authority (TanTrade)
  • Mr. Odilo Majengo – Director of Trade Promotion and Marketing Ministry of Industry and Trade

It is my pleasure to be with you this morning to recognize the commitment of the Government of Tanzania to formalize Joint Border Committees. This commitment highlights years of cooperation between the Tanzanian and United States Governments, enabled by assistance provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to reduce the time and cost of transporting goods across borders.

The World Bank estimates that over 40 percent of the cost of goods in East Africa can be attributed to transport and transit costs. This highlights the importance of improving customs systems and efficiency in border operations. The East African Community, and especially the Government of Tanzania, is committed to improving border and customs management to enable cross-border trade, advance implementation of the EAC single customs territory, and enable Tanzania’s private sector to take advantage of the larger EAC marketplace.

In response to the commitment of the EAC and its member states, since 2010, through the USAID East Africa Trade Hub, the United States Government has provided focused assistance promoting coordinated border management by establishing and supporting Joint Border Committees. The Tanzanian Ministry of Industry and Trade, with the support of the USAID Trade Hub, established Joint Border Committees – or JBCs - at Tanzania’s priority border posts. JBCs facilitate efficient border operations by promoting collaboration between government agencies and private sector operators to better identify and resolve impediments to efficient movement of cargo through borders. In this way, JBCs enable more efficient border operations and the faster flow of cargo. The commitment by the Government of Tanzania to institutionalizing JBCs sends a clear message to the both Tanzanian private sector, as well international companies looking to invest, that Tanzania is serious about reducing the time and cost of transporting goods and enabling trade.

The earliest JBCs were setup with USAID assistance at Tanzania’s southern borders with Zambia and Malawi at Tunduma and Kasumulu. JBCs at Namanga, Mutukula, Kabanga and Rusumo followed in 2011. The newest JBC was established just this year at Sirari, an important border between Kenya and Tanzania. Throughout the EAC, USAID has established at total 16 JBCs at ten border crossings along the three main corridors of the EAC. Seven of these JBCs are at Tanzania borders, including: Namanga, Sirari, Rusumo, Kabanga, Mutukula, Kasumulu and Tunduma.

JBCs require close coordination and support from the central government.  To ensure this support, the Ministry of Industry and Trade plans to have TanTrade act as the lead agency in coordinating all relevant government agencies at Tanzania’s borders in support of JBCs. The United States Government could not be more pleased with the support we have been able to provide, and with the commitment of the Government of Tanzania to place JBCs on the path to becoming sustainable mechanisms for improving the efficiency of trade across Tanzania borders. The Government of Tanzania is the first of all EAC Member States to take the important step to institutionalize Joint Border Committees. I commend you all.

Tanzania has made important strides toward improving the facilitation of movement of goods at its borders. According to the World Bank’s Doing Business Report, Tanzania scores the highest among the EAC countries in the category of “Trading Across Borders”. Further, according to a recent study, the average border crossing time at Rusumo border, one of the busiest between Tanzania and Rwanda, is now less than a half a day. Compare this to 2009 when the average was three to four days and the impact of improved coordination among government and private sector agencies, which JBCs support, is evident. This time savings equates to an estimated savings of almost $1000 USD per truck. This savings is “money in the pockets” of the producers, the transporters, and the clearing agents, and reduces costs for all of us. 

Further still, JBCs will assist the Tanzanian Government fulfill provisions under the EAC Customs Protocol by:

  • Reducing non-tariff barriers to trade;
  • Honoring and enforcing Rules of Origin;
  • Addressing security and other restrictions to trade;
  • Enabling cooperation of customs authorities; and
  • Simplifying and harmonizing trade documentation and procedures.

In essence, JBCs prove that ‘soft’ reforms through improved coordination and collaboration can have a lasting impact on regional trade. That time really is money, and with the reduction in delays, trucking companies can complete more trips, traders can depend on moving goods more efficiently, and producers can more easily access regional markets. All stakeholders will experience an increase in revenue as trucks reach destinations faster and traders receive their goods on time.

The United States Government support for deepening regional integration, improving transit and transport, and increasing intra-regional trade will continue under the United States Trade Africa Initiative, the five year White House Initiative launched right here in Dar es Salaam in July, 2013. It is my pleasure to be with you here today to honor our collaboration, and to witness the success of the Government of Tanzania as you advance the institutionalization of Joint Border Committees in Tanzania.

Thank you.

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Issuing Country