Training of Trainers (TOT) Course on Tariff and Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) was held on November 17-20, 2014 at the SADC Secretariat Headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana. The main objective of the Training was to equip the participants from Member States to be skilled trainers in their Customs Administrations while at the same time, forming a pool which can run regional training programmes. Amongst others, the objectives of this training were to:
• Equip the trainers so that they are able to conduct training on NTBs at national level for other Customs officials and Stakeholders;
• Educate trainers on the need to eliminate NTBs ;and
• Understand the nature, categories and impact of NTBs in SADC.
This was the fourth training course under the SADC Customs Training of Trainers (TOT) Programme 2013-2016 organised in collaboration with the World Customs Organization and the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The main objective of the TOT programme is to provide technical and professional support, particularly in view of the contribution of Customs Administrations to the consolidation of the SADC Free Trade Area (FTA) and the successful implementation of the SADC Protocol on Trade. This would be done through training of trainers, who when equipped, would train stakeholders on Customs and Trade related topics.
The SADC Protocol on Trade, which came into force in 2000, seeks to further liberalise intra-regional trade by creating mutually beneficial trade arrangements, thereby improving investment and productivity in the region. Amongst others, it advocates that Member States eliminate barriers to trade, ease customs procedures, harmonise trade policies based on international standards, and prohibit unfair business practices. The Protocol also contains annexes detailing policies on Rules of Origin, Technical Barriers to Trade, Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, customs cooperation, harmonisation of trade documentation, transit facilities, and trade development. The Protocol provides for elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers to Trade (NTBs) and requires Member States to refrain from imposing any new NTBs.
The Committee of Ministers of Trade (CMT) at its July, 2013 meeting requested all Member States to address long standing NTBs, while noting that some NTBs may be of a policy and regulatory nature, and would need to be addressed on a case by case basis. In an effort to address NTBs, the CMT expanded the mandate of Sub Committee on Trade Facilitation (SCTF) to include resolution of reported NTBs at a regional level. At the national level, National Monitoring Committees (NMCs) have been established in most Member States to coordinate the resolution of reported NTBs.
The Sub Committee on Customs Cooperation (SCCC) also undertook to engage with each other at bilateral level in order to speedily resolve Customs related NTBs affecting common border crossings. SCCC has also recommended that Customs Administrations should implement trade facilitation instruments which allow for the seamless flow of goods such as the Coordinated Border Management and the Single Window Concept.