COMESA Simplified Trade Regime

COMESA is working with Member States to come up with a simplified Customs Clearance procedure that would be used by small scale cross border traders to facilitate easy import and export of their goods.

The simplified clearance procedure under COMESA is called the COMESA Simplified Trade Regime (STR).

Why is it necessary to implement the STR?

The COMESA Simplified Trade Regime has been introduced to solve the problems faced by small scale cross border traders such as:

  1. Lack of knowledge and information on the benefits of trading with other COMESA countries
  2. Complex documents and complicated processes of filling the current forms
  3. Increased clearance costs
  4. Delays in the clearing of goods and processing of tax refunds

The STR intends to overcome the above challenges by simplifying the whole process of clearing goods for small scale cross border traders by way of introducing:

  1. A simplified certificate of origin which should be signed and stamped by a ZIMRA official at the border post for all goods that appear on the Common List.
  2. A simplified customs document – traders are supposed to declare goods that appear on the Common List and duty is not payable on the declared goods.
  3. A common list of qualifying goods - The Common List will be gazetted by each member state and notified to the general public. Once gazetted, the Common List will also be displayed at all border posts within COMESA.

Who can use the STR?

It is used by small scale cross border traders importing or exporting goods from one COMESA Member State to the other. Travellers who do not have goods for sale should not use the Simplified Trade Regime.

When can it be used?

Where a small scale cross border trader is exporting goods valued at US$1000.00 or less per consignment he or she can use the STR. The goods should be listed on the COMESA STR Common List and should be for re-sale or use in the business.

How is it used?

For goods that have been grown or wholly produced in the COMESA Region and appear on the Common List, the trader will complete a simplified Customs Document (declaration form) and a simplified COMESA Certificate of Origin. These documents are filled in at the border post by the trader and are stamped and certified by a customs official. Goods imported and exported should comply with the normal food safety, plant and animal health regulations including environmental protection. Import or Export permits needed to import or export certain agricultural foods and animal products are still required.

Does this apply to all goods?

A Common list will be provided stating the goods that can be imported using the COMESA STR.

What are the advantages?

  1. COMESA rates of customs duty are applied on clearance of the goods.
  2. Fast clearance at the border posts.
  3. Reduced clearance costs.
  4. No need to smuggle your goods risking your life and goods.

When did this facility start?

The end of 2010 this facility was available at selected border posts.

Where can I find more information?

You need to contact your Lead Agency - Ministry of Small & Medium Enterprises Development, Mukwati Building, 4th Street / Livingstone Avenue, Harare or your focal point - Ministry of Industry & International Trade, or the COMESA website (www.comesa.org) or the nearest Zimbabwe Revenue Authority Office for more information and get prepared.

 
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