Uganda, South Sudan to boost cross-border trade

South Sudan National Revenue Authority (SSNRA) Commissioner General, Dr. Patrick Mugoya during the meeting held at Nimule


Cross-border women traders at South Sudan’s Nimule and Uganda’s Elegu border points may witness a surge in their business operations if the proposed Simplified Trade Regime (STR) is adopted.

This follows the Commissioner General of South Sudan National Revenue Authority (SSNRA), Dr Patrick Mugoya’s announcement that his tax authority will work with the Uganda Revenue Authority and TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) to formally introduce the scheme to boost women cross-border trade.

“Making these women follow the normal customs clearance procedures is not proper; we will ensure that we put in place a special clearance scheme to enable them to trade with ease. As SSNRA, we are more than ready to work in the very near future with our counterparts in URA to introduce this special window,” Dr Mugoya said.

The STR is where small-scale traders benefit from a simplified customs document and a simplified certificate of origin (SCOO), under which goods that are originating from member countries and whose value does not exceed $2,000 (sh7.3m), per consignment qualify for duty-free entry in the respective markets.

It mainly consists of four main instruments, including a simplified customs document, a simplified certificate of origin, a common list of products and a threshold for the value of the consignment.

It seeks to formalise and improve the performance of the small-scale cross-border traders and enable them to benefit from the regional preferential treatment when importing or exporting goods within the region.

Dr Mugoya was responding to recommendations made in a research report by Paul Bagabo, a consultant, on how the Simplified Trade Regime (STR) can support Nimule Cross Border Traders Affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This was during a programme to launch the Women in Trade programme that seeks to train, mentor and build capacity of about 2,000 Women Informal Cross-Border Traders and Women Entrepreneurs in South Sudan, at Nimule and the handover of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs).

According to Bagabo, there is need to support the operationalisation of the STR at the Nimule -Elegu border, support further trade-related reforms to complement the One-Stop Border Post, including an integrated border management system to reduce time for clearing goods and elimination of multiple agencies at the border to reduce duplication of services.

“Other traders in the EAC are benefiting from the STR; unfortunately, at the Elegu-Nimule border, this has not yet started. This is needed as it will help these women by reducing costs, eliminate informal trade, help safeguard government revenue, make legitimate trade more appealing and improve intra-regional trade,” Bagambo said.

May take longer

However, the Elegu Women Cross-Border Traders and SACCO Chairperson Margaret Auma, expressed pessimism about the STR project, saying that it might take long to bear the needed fruits given that South Sudan has not yet fully joined the East African Community (EAC).

“It will still be a problem because South Sudan has not yet joined the EAC, fully unless they speed up the process of joining the community,” Auma said.

The Under Secretary in Charge of East African Affairs at the Ministry of East African Community Affairs Mou Mou Athian, said that while the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the process, they are now going to embark on finalising the pending processes to join the community.

Uganda, South Sudan to boost cross-border trade

The Under Secretary in Charge of East African Affairs, at the Ministry of East African Community Affairs, Mou Mou Athian speaks at the meeting at Nimule

Commenting about the Women in Trade Programme, Athian said that training and building capacity of women traders is vital as it provides income and livelihoods for women and youth and acts as a vehicle to lift them from abject poverty.

Funded by Global Affairs Canada and implemented by TMEA, the programme seeks to increase income from trade for targeted women traders in East Africa, boost their capacity and competencies to participate in cross-border trade, promote their rights in trade and reduce their vulnerability to violence, harassment and exploitation, according to the TMEA Country Representative for South Sudan, John Bosco Kalisa.


Relatedly, TMEA South Sudan donated PPEs, valued at $ 110,000 (sh402.4m) to South Sudan to bolster the fight against Covid-19.

The PPEs included hand sanitisers, hand-washing stations, liquid handwashing soap, infrared thermometers, re-usable safety boots, full protective PPE, filtering full-face respirators, reusable masks, plastic face shields, disposable gloves, hand sanitiser dispensers and disinfectant spray bottles.

Kalisa stressed the need for all actors in government, private and non-government sectors to act in a concerted and coordinated effort for greater impact in containing the pandemic.

The equipment donated is part of the Safe Trade Emergency Facility, a $23m emergency program rolled out by TMEA in the East African region in the aftermath of the pandemic to ensure regional economies continue to trade in a safe way.


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