Region’s First Joint Border Management Committees Established in Malawi
During the first week of September, a SATH team traveled to Malawi to support the Ministry of Industry and Trade to establish the first Joint Border Management Committees (JBCs) in the region in Blantyre, Mwanza and Songwe. This follows on a series of border operations assessments carried out earlier this quarter to identify bottlenecks and delays and make recommendations to form the basis for action plans for the JBCs.
Throughout southern Africa, long delays at borders are often cited as a significant non-tariff barrier to trade, as it discourages international and intra-regional trade, makes commerce and industry less competitive and contributes to food insecurity.
To improve efficiency at the borders, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is promoting Integrated Border Management (IBM) with support from SATH. IBM entails coordination of relevant authorities and border agencies at one side of the border (national), coordination of border agencies at the other side of the border (national) and then coordination of border agencies across the borders (bilateral/international). Increased coordination will establish effective and efficient border management in order to reach the objective of open, but well controlled and secure borders. Apart from improving border efficiency, IBM lays the foundation for the introduction of OSBP or Single Window initiatives.
The main goal of SATH's IBM program is to reduce the time goods take to cross borders and concomitantly reduce the cost of trade. The IBM program plans to achieve this by empowering institutions and agencies that are responsible for trade facilitation, such as Ministries of Trade and Industry, Corridor Management Institutions (CMIs), as well as Joint Border Committees (JBC) established through this program.
The National Workshop in Blantyre was officially opened by the Principal Secretary of Trade, Mr. Newby Kumwembe, who highlighted the commitment of Malawi to reducing trade costs. He pointed out that there has been a change in trade policies to make them more facilitative to trade and the establishment of the Malawi Trade Logistics Technical Working Group (MTLTWG) to focus on reducing the cost of doing business in Malawi and making Malawi competitive. He thanked SATH for its support in partnering with Malawi to achieve this goal.
Joint Border Committees were established during the workshops at Mwanza and Songwe borders with Clearing and Forwarding Agents Association as Chair and the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) as Vice Chair and MRA as Chair and Immigration as Vice Chair at Mwanza and Songwe respectively. Border Agencies adopted draft Action Plans based on the recommendations from the border operations assessments carried out previously by SATH as well as discussions during the workshops.
SATH will return to Malawi in November to assist the JBCs to finalize and prioritize their action plans as well as identify potential resources and partners for the prompt implementation of these action plans.