‘Bulky paperwork hindering intra-Africa trade’

BULKY documentation when trading has continued to fuel illicit transactions, which if not addressed will undermine the continent’s objective of collecting sufficient revenue, the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa has said.

The council’s chief executive officer, Gwarera Mangozhe, said impediments to intra-Africa trade are largely underpinned by non-tariff barriers to trade, with large volumes of documentation and bureaucracy underpinning the movement of containers across the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
“For one to export a container of goods, there are three groupings of certifications, namely export, vendor and import.
“If you have a container with 300-600 different types of goods leaving, for instance, South Africa to Angola or other SADC countries, there will be five invoices, 28 SADC certificates, 84 customs stamps, 58 customs signatures, 83 export documents. You can imagine, if you are doing a thousand containers a year, how much paperwork would you need?” Mr Mangozhe said.
He said recently during the African Export and Import (Afrexim) Bank annual general meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, that the process has been fuelling the smuggling of goods, which results in the loss of government revenue.
Mr Mangozhe said making Africa a free trade zone should start by aligning legislation and that governments should consider implementing illicit trade solutions such as tax stamps.
“Non-harmonised high tariff differences between African countries such as excise and import duty differences between countries help create arbitrage opportunities for smugglers to make money, thus creating the opportunity for illicit trade.
Mr Mangozhe also said weak border and excise management systems are also contributors of illicit trade.


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