Policy Framework

The COMESA Heads of State directed that cross border trade by Small and Medium size Enterprises (SMEs) be better facilitated in order to afford them lower costs of trade and expedite transactions at the borders. In this regard, the Simplified Trade Regime was adopted by Council. The STR is in line with the COMESA Treaty provides for both the simplification and harmonization of trade documents and procedures (Chapter 9) as well as Article 151 which includes a focus on market development of the private sector.

Programme Description

The STR is a cross-border trade facility for small-scale traders importing and/or exporting goods worth US$2,000 or less, which fall within a short-list of eligible STR cross-border products. The STR replaces the requirements for small scale traders to use a Certificate of Origin and the regular customs documentation, with a Simplified Customs Document (SCD). The SCD is obtained through a Trade Information Desk Officer (TIDO) at the border crossing.

Others tools of the STR comprise the declaration document, the certificate of origin, the Simplified Cerfication of Origin (SCoO) and the common list of products agreed between two or more trading partner states. Besides the benefits of simplified procedures, traders benefit from duty free privileges and reduced costs related to the standard trading procedures.

In the context of RISM, Member State must determine the specific number and types of activities it will undertake in a given year in relation to any or all of the following elements:

  1. establish or revision of bilateral STR agreements (at least one),
  2. establish a TIDO in at least one border post, and
  • record the STR transactions in the special STR code on the Customs data system.

Performance Assessment