At the end of June, representatives of small cross-border traders from ten major crossing points on DRC’s eastern borders, gathered in Goma for the first general assembly of the National Coordination Committee of Cross-Border Traders. Officers of the cross-border traders’ associations (ACTs), from Mahagi in the north to Mokambo in the south, came together for two days to agree the aims and structure of this national platform for small-scale traders.
DRC and its eastern neighbours – Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Zambia – are all members of COMESA and signatories to the Simplified Trade Regime (STR) for small-scale cross-border traders. STR provides for a simpler process for small traders, the majority of whom are women, and also allows certain tax and duty exemptions. Implementation of the regime is, however, variable. Each border crossing has its own ACT. ELAN has been working with the ACTs at several crossings, both to support implementation of the STR and to strengthen the associations in order to make them, ultimately, self-sustaining.
The aims of the national committee are to improve the sharing of knowledge and experience amongst the ACTs, to provide mutual support, and to advocate at national level for a business environment conducive to the growth and development of this important sector of the economy. Work continues to achieve these aims.