The International Trade Department under Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade held a consultative meeting on Monday to develop an implementation framework for the National Trade in Services Strategy. This implementation framework is aimed at giving a guide and speeding-up the strategy implementation process. The implementation of the National Trade in Services Strategy is expected boost the imports and exports of services. In order for the services sector to flourish, information on the requirements for imports/exports is essential hence the Eswatini Trade Information Portal (ETIP) has been developed with the aim to avail information about imports/exports in a single window. The information that is provided by the portal include legal documents, measures, procedures and forms and trade agreements which is updated timeously to provide the trader with relevant and current information to minimize time spent doing trade across borders.
Trade laws and regulations, measures, standards, procedures, process maps, guidance notes, fees, forms, licenses and permit and customs tariff (organized by HS Code) as well as duty, fees, taxes, levies and applicable penalties in case of a breach are some of the legal documents that have already been uploaded to the portal forms part of the information made available on the trade portal. The legal documents come from various trade regulatory agents; Government, Government parastatals and the private sector. There are over 115 legal documents that give a guide on imports and exports of various products and services. These legal documents come in the form of Acts, Regulations, Orders, Decisions, Guidelines, Instructions, Policies and Notifications. Importers/exporters and potential traders can be able to search for any of these legal documents on the portal before they can begin to trade outside of the country.
Measures available on the portal comprise licensing and permit requirements, technical conformity standards, certification requirements and generally any form of authorization, inspection, verification, or other forms of control concerning export, import, and transit. There are over 146 measures in place that regulate Eswatini’s trade with external trading partners and these measures are housed in different trade regulatory agencies, however through ETIP all the measures have been brought under one roof for easy access. The trade measures come in different forms such as permit requirements, Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS), General measures like the ozone depleting substances restriction on trade, licencing requirements, inspection requirements, prohibited goods such as the usage of Anabolic Hormones, thyrostic substances and growth promoters. Other measures are performance requirements, duty/tax payable, registration requirement, customs duty rebates, restrictions, test standards as well as nationality requirement. The portal only provides information on the available measures that are applicable to imports/exports for traders to easily comply with those measures while doing business.
Procedures and forms
This is information that relates to procedures required when applying for various legal trading documents such as licenses, permits, border clearance or other regulatory obligations relating to export, import or transit of goods and means of transport and application Forms. There are over 84 procedures and forms that regulate trade in the country and the other regulatory documents, they are housed under various public and private sector agencies. Some examples of procedures and forms include business registration (company registration), trading licence, registration of motor vehicles, mining licence, storage approval, special economic zones licence and import permit for plants and plant products. All these procedures and forms have successfully been uploaded into the trade portal to enable traders to access information in a single place. The information availability will not only benefit local traders but foreign direct investors as well because the portal can be accessible from anywhere in the world.
Information relating to international, regional and bilateral trade agreements to which Eswatini is a party, including the applicable rules, regulations and requirements and the opportunities for Eswatini on a product by product basis. Eswatini has signed and ratified a number of trade agreements including the an agreement establishing the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1994, WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) ratified in 2017, Southern African Development Community (SADC), SADC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement signed and ratified in 2016, Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU), SACU-MERCOSUR Preferential Trade Agreement 2016 which is a Southern American trade bloc that comprise Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), SACU - EFTA (European Free Trade Area), the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The trade information portal as mentioned earlier is designed to be a work in progress therefore more trade agreements are yet to be uploaded.
Key import/export products
Eswatini has a number of import/export products but plants and plant products, motor vehicles, handicraft and timber are classified as the main products that are traded across the borders. The portal provides a step-by-step guide on the import/export procedures, measures guiding each product and legal documents to adhere to. Browsing through the portal has been made easier by the provision of a video that gives a guide on where a trader can find the information they are looking for. Furthermore, the portal also provides a search option where a trader can use a few key words or a phrase to search for any information they are looking for in a short space of time. The question and answer section also provides for shortcuts to specific information that is available on the portal. Visitors to the portal are encouraged to leave constructive comments or questions with the aim to help the department in improving the information available on the portal to better service its intended audiences/stakeholders.
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