By Phiwa Sikhondze
The Eswatini Revenue Service (ERS) and South African Revenue Service (SARS) have joined forces to conduct a bilateral Time Release Study (TRS) at the Ngwenya border post, to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of border procedures and facilitate trade between the two countries.
The TRS is supported by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and other stakeholders and is part of the WCO Mercator Trade Facilitation Programme, which helps member countries implement the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).
The TRS aims to reduce the regulatory burden, delays, and costs associated with cross-border movement of goods, and to enhance the security and transparency of the global supply chain. According to the WCO, the TFA could increase global merchandise exports by up to US$1 trillion per annum and create 21 million jobs worldwide.
The study aims to identify areas for improvement and implement measures to expedite the clearance process, benefiting business and boosting both Eswatini and South Africa’s economy. It also seeks to track the time taken to clear cargo at the border, with the aim of streamlining and enhancing trade efficiency between the two countries.
When launching the TRS workshop, the SARS Director of Customs, Beyer Theron, highlighted the importance of the TRS for both South Africa and Eswatini, as well as for the regional economic integration envisaged by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
“The Time Release Study (TRS) helps to inform, quantify, and also creates measurable value for economic operators, and is necessary for the sustainability and growth of regional trade corridors, helps to identify, limit, and alleviate the effects of procedural bureaucracy, inefficiencies and costs on legitimate trade, and supports the regional economic benefits envisaged by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA),” he said.
Theron also noted that the TRS is expected to benefit both the traders and the governments of Eswatini and South Africa, by reducing the time and cost of doing business, increasing the revenue collection and compliance, and enhancing the competitiveness and growth of the two economies.
He added that the TRS will help to identify and address the bottlenecks and inefficiencies that hamper the smooth flow of trade across the border and improve the coordination and cooperation among all the regulatory agencies involved.
He also thanked the World Customs Organization (WCO), the Border Management Agency (BMA), the trade representatives, and their own teams for their commitment and participation in the TRS.