Friday, May 04, 2012

(NEWZIMBABWE) AfDB chief urges Beitbridge solution

AfDB chief urges Beitbridge solution
03/05/2012 00:00:00
by Business Reporter

IMPLEMENTATION of a one-stop border post at Beitbridge is “imperative” to reducing trade-restricting transactions costs currently estimated to be as high at $35-million a year, African Development Bank chief economist, Professor Mthuli Ncube argues.

In a paper entitled ‘Border Posts, Checkpoints and Trade in Southern African Development Community (SADC) Countries’, Ncube says chronic delays, congestion and inefficiency at Beitbridge are costly in both time and money.

Waiting times range from 33 hours to 45 hours, while yearly transaction costs are estimate to be between $29.3-million and $35-million.

By implementing a one-stop solution, similar to the one that has already been deployed at the Chirundu crossing between Zambia and Zimbabwe, Ncube believes the flow of commercial goods and services, as well as the movement of people, will improve significantly, helping to facilitate further trade and investment.

At Chirundu, northbound trucks are inspected and cleared by the Zambian authorities, while Zimbabwean officials clear southbound vehicles, reducing the duplication associated with two checks.

Average waiting times have reportedly fallen from around two days to two hours, while those using the fast-track preclearance procedure are now crossing within 15 minutes.

The reduced transaction costs associated with the one-stop solution have stimulated trade, which has increased revenues for Zambia by 30 percent.

Ncube believes the solution should be replicated at Beitbridge, which is one of the busiest border posts within the SADC, with more than 3 500 vehicles and 12 000 people crossing daily during peak periods.
The paper also makes the case for a more generalised roll-out of one-stop border solutions across the region.

Trade liberalisation efforts, Ncube notes, have helped raise trade volume within the SADC from $12.4-billion in 2000 to $34.5-billion in 2010, after peaking at $36-billion in 2008.

However, the large number of border posts and roadblocks along key SADC corridors are costing the region about $48-million a year.

“The customs environment in the regional grouping is characterised by a lack of coordination among the multiple government agencies on both sides of borders,” he said.

“This raises the common challenge of the duplication of procedures at each border, which increases the potential for risk management and fraud.”


There is also a lack of computerised customs management systems, while such systems are not compatible when they do in fact exist.

The solution, Ncube states, lies in one-stop border posts, whereby people and products make a single stop and pass through simplified and harmonised customs and immigration procedures.

“One-stop border posts do not only facilitate the movement of goods and persons by reducing the bureaucracy and clearance times at the borders, they also enhance trade by reducing the high cost of trading emanating from delays, bribes, and cumbersome procedures at border posts,” he said.

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