- The peace agreement over the weekend was signed at the administrative territory of Mahagi in Ituri province, DRC with a slogan peace and transformation of regional trade among the two countries with improved
- The singing of the MoU was witnessed by top security officers from Nebbi and Mahagi territory and the administrative leaders of the two entities
- The simplified trade Regime is aimed at enabling the cross border traders to benefit from the regional preferential treatment when importing or exporting goods within the region.
By Okaba Patrick
Nebbi- Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo have signed a memorandum of understanding to boost cross border trade.
While signing the agreement at Goli Customs, the State Minister for trade, industry and cooperative Mr Fredrick Ngobi Gume, said the simplified trade regime will boost cross border trade that will significantly contribute to the development of Uganda’s economy and enables the movement of produce of across borders from the surplus to the areas.
Ngobi adds that the cross border traders are faced with number of challenges which have not yet benefited much from duty free and quota free market arrangement under COMESA trade even through their products.
“We are losing much money through illegal routes due to bribery tendency and time wasting at the border point engineered by custom agents. As a result, trade between Uganda and DR-Congo declined in 2012 by Shs 88 million because Ugandans didn’t utilize their trading items of like sugar, Cement, palm oil, cosmetics and sodas due to poor trading relationship,” Ngobi said.
The agreement follows complaints by businessmen who claim they had been harassed, arrested and detained without trials, lost property in hands of security men, especially from DR Congo. Hundreds of Ugandan traders are engaged in cross-border trade in Mahagi, Goma and Beni, but they are usually allegedly harrassed by the Congolese authorities who also slap numerous taxes on their goods.
The Simplified Trade Regime (STR) is an arrangement being implemented by member states of Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) to formalize and improve the performance of small scale cross border traders.
However, in 2014 authorities in Nebbi District and DR Congo signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) aimed at eliminating any forms of insecurity and violence that would destabilize peace and ensure smooth cross-border trade. But this has not been respected as cases of insecurity continued.
The RDC Nebbi Ms Modesta Ajilong, says there is need to establish mutual understanding between Congo and Uganda and construct better border infrastructures and maintain the security between the two countries for conducive trading environment.
She adds that to enhance trade, there must be good road network, peace and security and stable electricity through simplified trade regime.
According to the political adviser Mahagi territory, Mr Gilbert Oyergiu Onencan, said there was need to sustain and consolidate bilateral relations by holding regular joint cross border security meetings.
“We need information sharing on insecurity which can affect both business and lives of our communities by strengthening of our security system and monitoring,” Onencan said.