JUBA, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan on Friday signed a framework agreement with Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA), a regional trade facilitating body, to ease movement of humanitarian cargo and relief supplies in the country.
Olympio Attipoe, head of the National Revenue Authority (NRA), lauded the memorandum of understanding reached between the two parties that will include setting up of the digitized regional electronic cargo tracking system and trade information portals to help improve revenue collection.
"The MoU being signed today is very significant and timely because of the current macro-economic realities in the country and the government's quest to diversify revenue base from overreliance on oil revenue to non-oil revenue," he told journalists in Juba.
He said that the support from Trade Mark East Africa and other development partners meets the general objective in chapter four of the signed revitalized peace agreement as it aims to improve on fiscal sustainability, transparency and accountability of revenue.
South Sudan, a member of the East African Community that includes Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda, is already implementing the non-oil revenue mobilization and accountability project funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) aimed at enhancing non-oil revenue administration.
"The MoU will shape the present and future relationship between the two organizations and define how national revenue authority and Trade Mark East Africa will continue to work together on technical and infrastructure support to customs division of the national revenue authority," said Attipoe.
He also noted that besides supporting capacity building of the customs department, Trade Mark East Africa is also facilitating the construction of the Nimule border parking yard near the Ugandan border town of Elegu, which is expected to be handed over to South Sudan in November.
"We also like Trade Mark East Africa to help us to support the customs reform at Nimule modernization one-border post and also introduce a risk management system at Nimule and Juba Airport, and also to support the national revenue authority customs division to accede to the world custom organization and become active members," said Attipoe.
He also urged the trade lobby to help with feasibility studies for the proposed Nesitu dry port in Juba to help ease the costs of transport and doing business.
Frank Matsaert, chief executive officer of TMEA, said they are very committed to helping facilitate trade and integration of South Sudan into the region.
"We are very committed to doing more we have focused on trying to get the Nimule-Elegu border really working. We have invested quite a lot there but also over the years we have supported South Sudan in it's accession process to the EAC. We have supported the development of the standards bureau here and also working with customs," said Matsaert.
He disclosed that trade is a catalyst for peace in South Sudan and that the new framework will bring together the private sector and the government towards a common objective of promoting trade.