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Friday, 14 February 2014

Tanzania Private Sector trail blazes with innovation to boost export trade

A new online system has been launched to improve the efficiency and reduce time taken to apply for certificates of origin to facilitate export trade.

 The Tanzania Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture (TCCIA) unveiled the system today that allows it to issue the Electronic Certificate of Origin (eCO). This service is expected to benefit the business community and more specifically the export community immensely.
This technology based system is the first of its kind in East Africa and will enable the exporters/ clearing and forwarding agents to process Certificates of Origin electronically using their computers, or mobile devices including tablets and smart phones. This project has been supported by Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA). 

Trade facilitation calls for rationalization and reduction in the number of documents needed for international trade and to introduce electronic online processes. This will reduce the time it takes to physically move between different offices collecting documents and to obtain necessary approvals. Manual processing of export documents adds to the cost of doing business due to the time taken to comply with administrative bureaucracies.

Executive Director at TCCIA, Daniel Machemba, said “The launch of the electronic certificate of origin is a boost to Tanzanian businesses and will spur export trade. The time and costs savings will encourage businesses to seek other markets for their export. This is a new system, a first of its kind in East Africa, which shows that Tanzania private sector is ready to do business. The private sector is an important partner to the government, and by developing such systems that can spur trade, we feel we are contributing to the expanded trade in Tanzania”

Electronic processing of certificate of Origin is yet another achievement by the chamber, contributing to its existing efforts to reduce red tapes and other obstacles to trade, in order to improve the trading environment in Tanzania and in the EAC region as a whole. 

Specifically TCCIA has designed and is now managing another system of reporting and monitoring NTBs which is also supported by TMEA and has been a great success so far. Data available from this system shows that concerns related to Certificates of Origin are among the top five NTBs reported in Tanzania. Others include customs procedures, administrative procedures at the borders and variable levies. 

The design of this system clearly illustrates that the chamber is spot on, proactive and responsive in designing real time solutions to problems and challenges in the market place.  

Country Director at TMEA Tanzania, Paulina Elago, said “Let us give credit to TCCIA for their continued efforts to champion innovative ideas to produce home grown, private sector led products, which are of first class quality, to improve the trading environment and eventually reduce cost of doing business.  This initiative is consistent with TMEA’s overall objectives and our expected results of increasing intra-regional exports by 25% come 2016, in addition to our efforts to promote the use of technology to bring about efficiency and cost saving measure to trade.”

The introduction of the eCO will lead to a significant reduction in the long queues of exporters waiting to collect certificates at the chamber’s offices and the number of times an exporter has to visit the chamber as they will now complete the forms online in the comfort of their offices.  

This also reduces the time that is lost in the traffic jam by the exporters who have to physically collect that one form. Ultimately this will lead to only one visit to the chamber to collect a final certificate, translating in a saving of more than 50% of the time spent on processing documents. 

The system provides for a reliable way of processing the CoO and thanks to technology authorized officers and signatories will be able to approve submitted documents from anywhere and need not be physically in the office. 

 This is important, considering that, as export volumes continue to grow, with increased investment inflow in the country, working online becomes a perfect way to efficiently process large volumes of submitted documents awaiting approval. 

The electronic processing of CoO by TCCIA is expected to set a benchmark for many other countries that continue to use traditional ways of issuing these documents. TCCIA is yet again setting the trend and leading the way for others to follow especially within the EAC region. A move in that direction by other countries will benefit the region significantly.

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