The 21-member Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) has commended Malawi for its implementation of the Simplified Trade Regime (STR) facility.
Comesa programme coordinator for Small-scale Cross-border Trade Initiative Tasara Muzorori said this at the ongoing Comesa Communication Coordinators and Media Training programme in Lusaka, Zambia.
He said Malawi is a shining example in the implementation of the STR, a trade arrangement which allows cross-border traders in the Comesa region to enjoy duty-free status when they import goods originating from member States.
He said: “We have 21 members as a bloc, but only Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are implementing the STR.
“However, Malawi stands out in how it is conducting this facility noted by the smooth transactions at the border and other countries can learn from Malawi.”
STR overcomes problems in proving goods that originate in a member country and, therefore, are not subject to duty.
However, taxes become payable if the goods attract excise duty and value added tax.
Speaking in an interview, Comesa national communications coordinator Mayeso Msokera said that the STR was designed for small consignments that have a value of $2 000 (about K2 million) or less.
He said Malawi has increased the threshold to $3 000 (about K3.1 million) to give an opportunity to traders to transact more.
Msokera, who is also Ministry of Trade and Industry spokesperson, told the delegates that the processing fee for customs declaration under STR is $1 (about K1 036) equivalent where as normal processing is at K20 000.
Malawi launched Comesa STR with Zambia in May 2010 and with Zimbabwe in August 2012.
There are common list of products agreed between Comesa member States to be traded under the STR arrangement.
In essence, there are agreed lists of products between Malawi and Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe and Zambia and Zimbabwe. The list of eligible products includes some agricultural products, live animals, food products, furniture, stationery and other assorted items.