Federation of East African Freight Forwarders Association (FEAFFA) with support from The USAID Hub launched an online learning platform to enhance Customs Clearing and Forwarding Agents’ (CFAs) application of the East African Community (EAC) Rules of Origin (RoO). “The online platform is expected to boost the number of CFAs trained, which will diminish RoO-related choke points in the region and reduce the cost and time required for cargo to cross borders” Said Joakim Parker, Mission Director, USAID – Uganda.
The platform was launched during the Global Logistics Convention 2018 held in Kampala, Uganda, from September 17-18. By allowing CFAs to access the training online, the Hub and FEAFFA are expanding learning opportunities. Women, who may be constrained by traditional gender roles and need to tend to domestic duties after work, can now work on the RoO module at their own pace and convenience, as can CFAs who could not access physical classes. With greater flexibility, more CFAs will be able to complete the module and work towards the East Africa Customs and Freight Forwarding Practicing Certificate (EACFFPC).
From June 2016 to May 2017, the Hub partnered with FEAFFA to improve CFAs’ application of the revised EAC RoO, which came into force in November 2015. The EAC Partner States revised the RoO to simplify them for the business community, harmonize them with other preferential trade regimes and provide clarity on the implementation of criteria, such as the change in tariff headings. RoO affect market access opportunities and can act as non-tariff barriers (NTBs) if not correctly applied or used, raising the cost of producing goods and affecting firm competitiveness. They also influence the ability of firms to fully leverage preferential opportunities under the EAC integration process.
The RoO online module is one part of the EACFFPC. In addition to supporting its development, the Hub supported FEAFFA to make additional updates to the certificate training, build up a pool of trainers in the EAC and provide training opportunities for students across the region. This contributed to an improved policy environment for EAC integration, conducive to trade competitiveness and accelerated investment.
Speaking during the launch, FEAFFA Executive Director John Mathenge said the platform will immensely make it possible for FEAFFA trainings be accessible to customs agents located outside EAC cities where EACFFPC training currently takes place.
The global convention was attended by about 5oo delegates.