Similar to most West African countries, trade costs in Burkina Faso remain exorbitantly high. While tariffs have been reduced, administrative barriers such as unnecessary documentary requirements, cumbersome clearance procedures, and system/technical delays, among other barriers, continue to raise transaction costs and negatively impact trade flows.
Three of the TFWA Program’s six priority corridors run through Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso thus represents a pivotal part of the reform agenda required for the program to meet its objectives.
NEWS & EVENTS
Gender mainstreaming efforts take center stage in the Burkinabe NTFC
In early November, the trade and gender sub-committee of Burkina Faso’s NTFC held a workshop to advance its goals toward gender maintstreaming. Among other the deliverables, the sub-committee worked on a draft decree, which is expected to be signed by both the Gender Minister and the Trade Minister over the coming weeks. Once signed, this decree would formalize the sub-committee, a major success for greater inclusiveness in Burkina Faso’s trade space.
Based on terms of references and best practices shared by the TFWA Program team, the group also worked on a draft roadmap that outlines how the sub-committee will work. Importantly, the sub-committee will include two representatives of women's associations. There are also plans to revise the NTFC decree to include the key gender actors, however, as the revision is process lengthy, this is only expected to be completed next year, after a new government is sworn in.
The biggest takeaway from the meeting is that the NTFC now sees how the maturity model can help them improve efficiency. As a result, the NTFC plans to immediately put together a team to work with the TFWA Program on conducting a self-assessment.
Burkina Faso continues harmonizing national customs code to international and regional conventions
In November, with support from the TFWA Program, the Customs Commission in Burkina Faso organized a workshop in Bobo Dioulasso aimed at revising the national customs code. Once completed, the revised Customs Code will incorporate the fundamental principles of the ECOWAS Customs Code, the Kyoto Convention, and the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement, while adopting supplementary national customs provisions as required by the ECOWAS Customs Code. All these efforts are aligned with the ECOWAS Customs’ Union program focused on facilitating the harmonization of domestic and indirect taxes across the economic zone.
Thanks to continued and productive engagements with the Customs Commission in Burkina Faso, this workshop is the sixth out of eight workshops planned and is the second of four workshops to be supported by the TFWA Program, falling under the program’s first component. The TFWA Program will also support two validation workshops once the revisions are completed, with a follow-up workshop scheduled to take place soon.
TFWA National Program launches in Burkina Faso
In October, a national program launch of the TFWA Program was held in Ouagadougou in collaboration with the National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) and the Burkinabe Chamber of Commerce. The launch, which was attended by the Minister of Trade for Burkina Faso, Honorable Harouna Kaboré, the Director of Trade for UEMOA, Rose Tiemoko Kabran, Acting Country Representative of USAID in Burkina Faso, Kathy Younker, Chargé d'Affaires at the embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Burkina Faso, Maarten Rusch, and joined virtually by Maiko Miyake from the World Bank.
Honourable Kaboré expressed the government’s strong commitment to support the implementation of the Trade Facilitation West Africa Program. In her speech, Madam Kabran mentioned that the program—which aims to reduce the time and cost of trade borne by the private sector, especially by improving the movement of goods along selected corridors, and by supporting small-scale traders—is in line with UEMOA’s vision and hence has the organization’s full support. The representatives of USAID and the Netherlands both expressed their strong support for TFWA Program activities and hoped that the program would spur economic growth in the region, helping improve the well-being of West Africans through effective facilitation of trade. They also reiterated their support for TFWA activities, which include a number of initiatives targeting the three priority trade corridors in Burkina Faso. Maiko Miyake, representing the World Bank Group and International Finance Corporation, affirmed the institutions’ resolve to collaborate with the NTFC on all program activities. While acknowledging the NTFC for including the gender ministry in all TFWA-related meetings, she also called on the committee to work on revising the NTFC decree to formally include the gender ministry and other key gender related institutions in the NTFC.
National Approval Committee members in Cabo Verde, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Benin, Niger, and Togo strengthen their skills on ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme approval procedures
The TFWA Program supported the ECOWAS Commission Directorate of Customs Union and Taxation (DCUT) to organize a virtual training on ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) approval procedures. The workshops targeted National Approval Committee (NAC) members in in Cabo Verde (5th to 9th October) Guinea (12th to 14th October), Burkina Faso (15th, 16th and 19th October), Benin, Niger, and Togo (9th to 13th November). In total, 102 people completed the workshops, including participants from the Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Regional Integration, Ministry of Finance, Customs Directorate, the Chamber of Commerce and National Export Promotion Body.
One objective of these nine workshops was to strengthen the functioning of the NACs by training their members on the ETLS mechanism. At the same time, the workshops aimed to provide ECOWAS Member States with a good number of trained ETLS resource people to facilitate activities, raise awareness, and train the national business community on ETLS, with a particular emphasis on highlighting the advantages of the scheme and the criteria for approval of companies and products.
The workshops allowed NAC members to master the ETLS mechanism, ensuring that a good number of ETLS resource persons are available in each trained ECOWAS Member State. Through these workshops, the approval process will be facilitated at the national level and the timeline for approval will be drastically reduced. Trainees will lead national awareness, information, and capacity building activities on the ETLS mechanism in order to strengthen regional integration in the ECOWAS region. As a result, the TFWA Program hopes to see a significant increase in the number of submissions of applications for approval to the scheme from these countries. Following the workshops, trainee-led national activities will also strengthen regional ETLS integration in the ECOWAS region.
Customs and SITARAIL collaboration supports rail customs computerization
On September 15th, a technical meeting was held with Ivoirian and Burkinabe Customs, SITARAIL, ECOWAS, the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the World Bank. The meeting aimed to present UNCTAD, Burkina Faso, and Côte d’ Ivoire with Customs and SITARAIL’s collaboration for the computerization of the rail customs process. Additionally, the meeting focused on the exchange of IT data. SITARAIL has carried out the computer developments necessary to integrate the management of data exchange with the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) into its system. SITARAIL was also able to present ASYCUDA’s different windows for the processing of rail-specific data.
UNCTAD asked Customs from two countries to provide a test environment to integrate the IT data exchange solution and to verify the correct functionality of this new development and of the data exchanges with SITARAIL. The integration of this new module can then be completed in each country, testing and validating the system before the pilot phase is launched (scheduled before yearend).
Another meeting was held on September 24th with Customs of Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire, the WCO, and the World Bank to finalize and validate two legal texts: "Joint Circular" and the "Framework Instruction on the Extension of the Interconnected System for the Management of Goods in Transit (SIGMAT) to International Rail Transit Between the Customs Administrations of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso," which will legally allow the two countries to exchange customs data. These texts will be signed by Customs Directors General at the pilot project’s launch ceremony, which should be organized by the end of the year.
Rail Customs Interconnection Meeting Advances TFWA Program Objectives
From January 13 to 17, the TFWA Program hosted a rail customs interconnection meeting in Abidjan. Following a previous rail customs interconnection meeting in October 2019, the workshop focused on the monitoring, evaluation, and extension of the SIGMAT solution to railway transportation between Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso.
In total, 35 participants attended the meeting, including representatives from Burkinabe and Ivorian customs offices, the SITARAIL railway system, the World Customs Organization, UNCTAD, the African Development Bank, the World Bank, and Communauté Portuaire d’Abidjan. The meeting aimed to establish SIGMAT rail implementation planning procedures while creating road interconnection appraisals—to solve issues faced by both administrations related to the current interconnection process. The group also prioritized reaching agreement on rail technical specifications. Further, attendees strived to finalize the joint circular, which provides framework instructions for the application of SIGMAT to international rail transit between Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire.
During the meeting, the group finalized the joint circular, which introduces the rail concept on interconnection. Importantly, the meeting allowed technical specifications for rail processes to be discussed and agreed. Because the SIGMAT solution for rail implementation planning has been agreed, as a next step, a pilot launch will be scheduled.
SIGMAT Implementation Meeting Advances Data Exchange in Burkina Faso
and Côte d'Ivoire
From January 6 to 10, the TFWA Program hosted a customs interconnection technical meeting with stakeholders focused on the Abidjan-Ouagadougou corridor, one of the program’s six priority trade routes. Following last October’s rail customs interconnection meeting in Ouagadougou, the Bollore Group’s railway company, SITARAIL, funded and organized this technical meeting. Held at SITARAIL’s training office in Abidjan, this gathering aimed to define a data exchange architecture between the SITARAIL railway system and the SIGMAT system used by the customs administrations of Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire.
Twenty stakeholders participated in the meeting, including the SITARAIL IT department, freight forwarders, a team of two Burkina Faso customs IT officers, and the Ivorian IT team. Following this meeting, stakeholders improved their understanding of the rail procedures. Additionally, participants learned the technical specifications that will allow them to develop interfaces with SITARAIL, SIGMAT, and the two customs authorities.
Regional customs administrations play an important role in trade facilitation, creating the foundational structures needed to advance the TFWA Program. This meeting laid the groundwork for the program to continue to advance its mission and objectives in the region.
TFWA Program Connects Ministries to Mainstream Gender in Burkina Faso
On November 28, the TFWA Program convened the first-ever meeting between the Gender Ministry and Trade Ministry in Burkina Faso. The meeting focused on mainstreaming gender within National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) activities, which are led by the Trade Ministry. The Gender Ministry is not part of the NTFC and there have not been any efforts to prioritize gender in NTFC activities in Burkina Faso.
Thanks to the TFWA Program meeting, it was realized that the Ministry of Trade was independently developing a gender strategy, without input from the Gender Ministry. At the same time, the Gender Ministry had completed an evaluation of the National Gender Policy and was developing its own gender strategy. By connecting these dots and promoting cross-ministry discussion, the TFWA Program built bridges between these key national stakeholders.
Following the meeting, both ministries committed to creating a small-scale cross-border trade and gender sub-committee within the NTFC. This committee will develop a roadmap for mainstreaming gender in NTFC activities. The Ministry of Trade also committed to revising the NTFC decree to include the Gender Ministry and other gender stakeholders. Both ministries also promised to involve each other in the development of their respective strategies moving forward.
In January 2020, the gender ministry officially nominated three representatives to the NTFC for TFWA Program-related discussions. The process of revising the NTFC decree to include the Gender Ministry is still being actively pursued by both ministries and—following the initial meeting facilitated by the TFWA Program—the small-scale cross-border trade and gender subcommittee has already met twice.