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ESWATINI ON THE FRONTLINE IN FACILITATING TRADE


ESWATINI ON THE FRONTLINE IN FACILITATING TRADE

The Eswatini National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) mandated to spearhead and coordinate the implementation of trade facilitation reforms in the Kingdom has completed the second phase of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Empowerment Training Programme.

The Programme, which is developed by UNCTAD with the support from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), is funded by the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting via Her Majesty Revenue and Customs (HMRC) of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The second phase of the programme is a follow up to Phase I, which was conducted at the Royal Villas in 2019 and resulted in the launch of the National Trade Facilitation Road Map (2019-2022). Contrary to the 2019 Phase I, which was conducted face to face, training for Phase II was delivered virtually and attended by the members of the National Trade Facilitation Committee. The Committee members comprise the Principal Secretaries of Government Ministries, Commissioners of Authorities, Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and key trade stakeholders from the various government Ministries, Ministry Departments and the Private Sector. Despite the COVID-19 limitations, Eswatini has been commended for the highest number of participants on the online training platform, which has spanned over the period of three months from March to May 2021.

TRAINING MODULES

The training programme covered 9 modules as follows;

  • Understanding Trade Facilitation
  • Trade Facilitation and Development
  • Trade Facilitation Indexes and Reports
  • National Trade Facilitation Committees
  • Introduction to the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement
  • Understanding the Provisions of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement
  • Technical Barriers to Trade and Sanitary and Phytosanitory measures in the context of Trade Facilitation; and
  • Standards and recommendations by UN/CEFACT

Each module ended with examination whereby participants had to complete to be able to continue with the next module. Weekly webinars were organised by UNCTAD, which were intended to unpack the upcoming week’s module and respond to any queries that participants may have. It was in these webinars that guest presenters were invited to make presentation on the subject of the week. These presenters were bringing in their experience and vast knowledge in the subject matter of that week, as they were expert in their respective fields of expertise.

Certificates of completion will be awarded to participants that would have completed the online training and submitted all assessments. The awarding of the completion certificate will take place at a date to be confirmed during the month of June 2021.

Objectives

Some of the objectives of the empowerment programme include empowering the NTFC members to successfully undertake their mandate to implement, in a coordinated manner, the trade facilitation reforms.  This includes the provisions of the World Trade Organisation Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA), which Eswatini ratified in 2017, with the overall aim of the NTFC helping the country to streamline the international trade. As WTO Members were given options to notify TFA implementation activities either under Category A, B or C, Eswatini notified the trade agreement activities to be implemented either under Category B or C depending on the time the country requires to implement a certain activity and or if it needs technical assistance.

 

National Trade Facilitation Initiatives

Some of the initiatives that are being coordinated by the NTFC include the single window, trade compliance, performance measurement systems, regional integration, customs to customs and risk management amongst others. Against the NTFC strategic roadmap (2020-2022), a lot of ground has been covered and the implementation of quite a number of initiatives is already underway. Therefore, the Committee is looking at having more than half of the work done by the end of 2022.

The country is currently receiving technical assistance from donors to implement these initiatives, including UNCTAD and the World Bank. This is part of the technical assistance WTO Member States receive to implement activities under the TFA if that country notified those activities under Category C.

At the present moment, the committee has successfully coordinated the development of the Eswatini Trade Information Portal (ETIP) and the Time Release Study (TRS) which was conducted in 2018. Preparations for conducting the next mini TRS are underway as the studies are conducted every after two years. The report on the TRS will be made available to the public especially importers/exporters.

The ETIP is a living website that is frequently updated on trade issues including all trade related measures such as legal documents, legislations, policies, forms, trade agreements for businesses interested in the import and export business.  

For more information, contact:

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade

International Trade Department

Gwamile Street, Mbabane

Phone: 2404 1808/9

 

 


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