A project by the Cross-Border Road Transport Agency (C-BRTA) aims to improve regional trade and lower value-chain costs by deploying a trusted-trader accreditation system, says C-BRTA CEO Sipho Khumalo.
The C-BRTA operator compliance accreditation scheme aims to incentivise voluntary compliance by known and established traders and transporters by providing rapid customs and excise processing at border posts among member States of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The scheme aims to standardise and harmonise customs, trade and security clearance document management and information sharing among stakeholder authorities and officials. This will ensure compliance with all regulations and requirements and facilitate rapid clearance at ports of entry, he says.
Predictability and certainty are integral to improving trade and reducing logistics costs. Most delays are the result of duplication of inspections and document processing. Therefore, single-window cross-border transport processing facilities and integrated documentation management facilitated by customs authorities’ back-end systems sharing data will mitigate these delays, says Khumalo.
Traders and transporters that comply with regulations and requirements should be rewarded with fast and predictable border clearance processing. Spot checks can be used to ensure that border controls are enforced and contraband does not cross the border as part of accredited trade.
The digitalisation of all aspects of commerce and trade is a boon to improving border processes and freight clearance, and digital document management is equally easy for large and small traders and transporters, he adds.
Further, effective information sharing between officials and police within and among countries allows for more efficient deployment of customs and police resources, as inspections carried out on vehicles can be reported to all stakeholders along trade corridors, which then helps to reduce duplication of inspections for customs and security.
Effective information sharing also supports the use of information technology to manage trade more easily, effectively and efficiently along trade corridors. For example, undue delays of trucks and vehicles between various check points can trigger additional spot checks and inspections. This information- and risk-based system helps to reduce delays – as trucks are not stopped unnecessarily – while simultaneously improving controls.
“The benefits of lower-cost cross-border transport and improved trade flow will positively impact on the entire value chains of industries and help to make them more competitive,” says Khumalo.
The operator compliance accreditation scheme is part of the C-BRTA’s broader Africa Link initiative, which aims to improve regional integration and trade flows.
Only about 14% of African trade is with other African countries, compared with European Union (EU) countries, where about 68% of trade is with other EU bloc countries.
“The ease with which goods can be moved is fundamental to improving regional industrial and agriculture sectors’ competitiveness. Better access to more markets and ports across the region bolsters the sustainability of enterprises.”
There are no significant legislative barriers preventing more efficient trade and logistics, and trade regimes among SADC countries can readily be adapted and harmonised to improve regional trade dramatically, concludes Khumalo.
The C-BRTA will host the International Road Transport Indaba in October, with a focus on regional integration; transport and trade initiatives; small, medium-sized and microenterprise competitiveness; green transport; and future intelligent transport systems.