Botswana ┬á┬áis┬á struggling┬á to┬á comply┬á with┬á a trade regulation from the European┬á Union┬á that calls for┬á exporting countries to undertake web-based┬á customs┬á clearance┬á procedures.
The country’s automated export and import control data system is failing to link with the EU market.
The Executive┬á Director┬á of┬á the Botswana┬á Export┬á and┬á Manufactures┬á Association┬á (BEMA),┬á Loago┬á Raditedu,┬á said┬á the┬á automated┬á data┬á system┬á cannot┬á communicate┬á with ┬áSouth┬á Africa, thereby creating a disruption in the link between Botswana and EU┬ácountries.┬á
Raditedu┬á said┬á they┬á are┬á awaiting┬á a┬á positive┬á response┬á from the Customs┬á and┬á Excise┬á department┬á on┬á the┬á functionality┬á of┬á the┬á system.
The┬á new┬á e-customs┬á legislation┬á was┬á passed┬á in┬á 2005┬á and┬á gave the customs authorities in EU member states up┬á to┬á five┬á years┬á to┬á prepare┬á for┬á it. Raditedu said┬á Botswana┬á should┬á have┬á complied┬á with┬á the┬á regulation┬á by┬á September,┬á after┬á failing┬á to┬á meet┬á the ┬áJune┬á deadline.
Botswana has to comply┬á with┬á the┬á legislation┬á to┬á continue┬á exporting┬á diamonds┬á┬á┬á to┬á EU┬á after┬á it’s┬á meat ┬áwas┬á banned┬á from┬á the┬á market┬á due┬á to┬á failure┬á to┬á comply┬á with┬á beef┬á exports┬á regulation.┬á┬á
Central┬á Statistics┬á office┬á figures┬á show┬á that ┬áin March 2011 total exports┬á were (P4, 408.3 million),┬á with 68.3 percent (P3, 011.2 million) destined for the EU, and┬á 66.5 percent (P2, 932.7 million) going to the United Kingdom alone and 1.8 percent (P77.5 million) going to Belgium.┬á
Exports to the United Kingdom consist mainly of rough diamonds.┬á Diamonds contribute 72 percent of the exports from Botswana.┬á
The Central Statistics office added that imports from the European Union were valued at P91.0 million in April 2011, representing 2.6 percent of total imports into Botswana during the month. None compliance could bring uncertainty to the supply of the imports.
The EU┬á claims┬á that┬á the┬á current┬á paper┬á-based┬á cross border┬á trade┬á has┬á given┬á fraudsters┬á an┬á opportunity┬á to┬á corrupt┬á the┬á governments┬á in┬á the trade┬á partnership. It says the trade is inefficient and costly, and often subject to fraud.
The process is reported to be excruciatingly slow and experiences delays of several weeks and often months, resulting in high overheads for both customs administrations and traders.
The slow movement of goods also has a harmful effect on exports and foreign investments, the main source of hard currency in many developing countries.
The EU also indicates that by repeatedly failing to meet delivery deadlines with international buyers, local businesses cannot build up or maintain their customer base and lose out to faster, more reliable suppliers.
Likewise, foreign investors and firms seeking joint venture opportunities are not attracted to countries where industrial supplies are delayed by customs formalities and lack of efficiency.
The┬á paper┬á free┬á agenda┬á will┬á be┬á further┬á advanced┬á by┬á the┬á introduction┬á of┬á the┬á Electronic┬á Manifest┬á System┬á in┬á the┬á middle┬á to ┬áthe┬á end┬á of┬á 2012.