The Single Customs Territory is a milestone towards integration of the EAC region. It is a stepping stone towards the attainment of a Customs Union.
In a bid to enhance the clearance of goods, minimise controls at internal borders and decongest the ports to boost trade facilitation in the East African Community, the presidents of the EAC partner states agreed to fast-track the implementation of the SCT, which was later launched in October 2013 and implemented by revenue authorities in January 2014.
After successful rollout of the SCT processes for all imports into Uganda in December 2017, Uganda Revenue Authority is now set to roll out the SCT procedures for Ugandan Exports that are destined to the world all over.
The rollout is effective July 19, 2018, and will commence with a pilot of coffee exported through the Port of Mombasa, and subsequently other exports, including tea, hides and Skins, etc. According to Dicksons Collins Kateshumbwa, the Commissioner Customs URA, the new procedures will be piloted with Uganda’s main exports because the benefits are expected to have instant significant impact on Uganda’s competitiveness and on the economy as a whole.
Between July 2017 to December 2017, Uganda’s Top 20 exports contributed 64.58 per cent of the total exports worth, with a value of Shs3,036.036b out of a total of Shs4,701.093b. The top exports included coffee, gold, maize, beans, and tea, with values of Shs888,880b, Shs502.699b, Shs179.604b, S164.646 billion , andShs152.715b respectively.
The main destinations of Uganda’s exports in the same period were Kenya, South Sudan, United Arab Emirates, DR Congo and Italy.
In terms of trading blocks, 44.34 per cent of Uganda’s exports are consumed in the EAC region, 21.3 per cent in Europe, 19.10 per cent in Asia and 10.94 per cent in the Comesacountries.
Under the new SCT Processes, only one export declaration is required to clear goods from Uganda to the ports, there is no need to make other declaration when the exports arrive in Kenya.
The export declaration is made in the URA system and automatically shared with Kenya Ports Authorities and Kenya Revenue Authority. Exports will take a maximum of two hours at the borders for cross border clearances.
The new process is simplified and harmonised throughout the EAC, this will result into improved clearance times of three days from Kampala to Mombasa, down from an average of seven days.
Exporters will also enjoy reduced costs of clearance and documentation fees, since the required customs declared have been reduced from four to one declaration.
URA has interconnected her IT systems with all Revenue Authorities and port authorities in the region, which enables real time sharing of information to support the speedy clearance of goods and for vessel booking and other port processes. Clients no longer have to move between agencies with piles of documents.
The current exports clearance process is tedious and costly to exporters. Also, the connection between customs and port authorities is manual and time-consuming. Exporters are required to make multiple customs declarations at several stages in each of the transit countries and go through multiple clearance processes which impedes the timely revenue inflow from exports from the region.
The new clearances are part of the several enhancements that are being implemented at URA to boost trade facilitation, including the Authorised Economic Operator, the One-Stop-Border Post, and the Central Document Processing Centre, among others.