CAROLINE KALOMBE, Lusaka
ZAMBIA and Jamaica have jointly scooped the first prize of the SmartLessons Competition at the Sixth Aid for Trade Global Review at the World Trade
Organisation (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland.
This was after Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry permanent secretary Kayula Siame, who led the Zambian delegation, made a presentation of the case study on trade facilitation reforms in Zambia.
SmartLessons are short papers which provide first-hand accounts of lessons learned in development operations.
The two countries emerged winners out of the six selected finalists at the ceremony on Thursday.
The ceremony was streamed live on WTO Facebook page.
Ms Siame said before the announcement of winners that Zambia undertook a trade facilitation needs assessment through implementation of a risk valuation mechanism.
“What really drove us were private sector complaints. Their inventories were being kept at the border, they were tied up. With the new system of risk management principle, we did something different.
“We didn’t have to inspect 100 percent of goods, we were getting positive results and we were happy with that. Inspections were reduced from 100 to 18 percent,” Ms Siame said.
She said the mechanism was put in place following private sector complaints that their goods were being kept at the border for long periods before being finally cleared.
Ms Siame said the new system of risk management identified gaps and recommendations for addressing them and ensured that inspections were reduced from 100 to 18 percent and this yielded a positive result.
She said Zambia ratified the trade facilitation agreement on December 15, 2015 and began the reform agenda which extended automation from Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) to other trade-related agencies.
A national trade facilitation committee was established, there was improved border agency coordination, and implementation of risk management for inspections.
Ms Siame said the implementation of the risk management programme began at ZRA, and reduced inspection rates for imported cargo to 40 percent, resulting in less time for the private sector to clear goods.
She said the programme was later extended to the Zambia Bureau of Standards, which has led to improvements in transparency and accountability, with about 40 percent increase in both the consignments recorded and fees collected.
Trade facilitation plays an important role in development as it enhances countries’ competitiveness, allowing them to trade goods and services on time and with low transaction costs.
The trade facilitation support programme, which is managed by the World Bank Group’s Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice, provides support for countries seeking assistance in aligning their trade practices with the WTO trade facilitation agreement.