By Billy Rwothungeyo
THE Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives has commissioned the Non-Tariff Barriers (NTB) Reporting System, a mobile phone and email-based system that will ease reporting to impediments to trade.
Through the system, the private sector will report NTBs and the ministry will coordinate with several government agencies to respond to the concerns.
While launching the facility in Kampala, Trade Minister Amelia Kyambadde noted that NTBs are slowing down the growth of regional business.
“Data from the EAC Secretariat shows that intra-EAC trade grew to $5.5 billion in 2012, up from $4.5 billion recorded in 2011, even as the five member states hesitated on the elimination of non-trade barriers (NTBs),” she said.
“EAC intra-trade at the moment stands at about 13 per cent of the total trade volume, against the 87 per cent of trade that goes to the rest of the world”
Allen Asiimwe, TradeMark East Africa’s country director said inconsistent information and dialogue mechanisms, coupled with slow response times to complaints reported have been thwarting efforts to scale down on the NTBs.
“Because there was not coordinated system as such (for reporting NTBs), traders are often left stranded, and goods, especially perishables, were left rotting.
Emmanuel Atwine the Project Manager for the National Response Strategy for the Elimination of NTBs Project said Uganda looked at similar facilities in the neighbouring countries before formulating their system.
“Our system is much superior to others in the EAC, with both functions on SMS and e-mail, back and forth. This means that when you send a complaint using an SMS, I can respond to you via an email, and it will be automatically be converted to SMS back to you,” he said.
Sam Watasa the Lead advisor for the National Response Strategy for the Elimination of NTBs Project says you can report NTBs from anywhere on the globe as long as you are logged onto the telecom networks.
How to report NTBs
To report by mobile phone, the user dials USSD Code *201# and follows instructions to select the appropriate NTB to report, and then submits a complaint. All subscribers to providers operating Uganda can access the service. By email, the user fills a complaint form http://ntbtool.mtic.go.ug/register/php, and submit.