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Trade barriers slowly being lifted: Will countries deliver on their promises?
This week began with good news for regional business persons, especially cross-border traders. The first news was an announcement by the Tanzanian High Commissioner to Rwanda that his country had at last heard complaints raised by businessmen operating in his country.
The most pressing one was the removal of unnecessary non-tariff barriers such as the red tape involved for foreigners when opening a bank account.
The High Commissioner promised that by the end of the year, all those barriers, including others that may be encountered along the way, will be no more. Some of the barriers were put in place as trade protective measures which have no place in these days of globalization and easing of trade barriers.
One other positive outcome this week was the reopening of Gatuna border post for heavy commercial vehicles. The vehicles had been barred from using the border so as not to disrupt construction of the One-Stop Border Post.
Work on the Rwandan part is complete unlike on the Ugandan side which is not expected to be completed anytime soon. The temporary disruption at the border had caused a lot of chatter, with many Ugandan officials going on the record to claim that Rwanda had closed the border.
They were creating a storm in a teacup because, the other two entry points, Kagitumba and Cyanika were operational. So those who have been seeking to milk political points out of the Gatuna saga had better look elsewhere.
What countries need to do is to honour their sides of the bargain and not look for scapegoats when they have fallen short.