On 18 September 2020, the National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) of Zambia under the auspices of the Ministry of Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, launched the Time Release Study (TRS) for the Chirundu One Stop Border Post. This TRS was rolled-out with technical assistance of the WCO and focused on imports – considering the Chirundu border post collects the majority of the county’s import taxes.
The launch event was hosted at the Zambia Revenue Authority Training Centre. Made possible also with the support of USAID, the TRS launch was attended virtually by 70 participants from Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), key border agencies, representatives from regional organizations, private sector representatives, the British High Commission and various development partners such as USAID, GIZ, the EU, and TradeMark East-Africa. It was noted that the WCO’s support to the TRS was made possible under the auspices of the partnership between the WCO and the United Kingdom (UK) through the UK Customs (HMRC) – leveraging the WCO’s Mercator Programme as a coherent and strategic approach towards TFA implementation.
In their opening remarks both the ZRA Commissioner of Customs and the Chair of NTFC and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, and Industry, expressed their appreciation for the support extended by the WCO. Speaking at the event, WCO Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Ricardo Treviño, highlighted the joint vision of simplification and harmonization of trade procedures. He said “The WCO TRS is accepted widely as an evidence based and objective methodology to assess clearance and release times. It is seen as the global standard to measure clearance and release times and identify bottlenecks – contributing to the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). This is important for all traders, especially for small scale traders.” He added, “I congratulate Zambia’s NTFC and the national TRS Working Group for this excellent contribution to the trade reform agenda of Zambia”.
The TRS was carried out in December 2019 after a national TRS Working Group was established, trained and empowered by the WCO. The WCO Deputy Secretary-General recognized that it is remarkable that initial recommendations issued in January 2020 directly led to quick wins as the ZRA took swift action: average clearance and release times were already reduced from 5-6 days to 2-3 days by March 2020. A key recommendation that has come out of the report is that the 17 border agencies working at the OSBP need to apply the principles of Coordinated Border Management with a view to provide a more facilitated service to the complaint traders.
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