BUJUMBURA March 6th (ABP) – Although it poses quite a lot of problems for the countries in which it is used, illegal cross-border trade is useful for African countries and particularly COMESA member countries (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa), according to Mr. Jean Pierre Bacanamwo, Interim Director General in charge of infrastructure and economic affairs at the Burundian Ministry in charge of the East African community.
This is why structures are being put in place by COMESA member countries to facilitate trade and the shift from illegal trade to legal one.
The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) estimated in 2009 that between 20% and 70% of Africans do illegal cross-border trade. In EAC and SADC (Southern African Development Community) countries, 70% of the practitioners of this illegal cross-border trade are women.
Mr. Bacanamwo, who was speaking last week during a workshop to sensitize journalists on Burundi’s integration process into the East African Community, said that cross-border trade contributes to strengthening the common market within the East African Community (EAC). He noted that there are two kinds of cross-border trade: legal cross-border trade and illegal cross-border trade or fraud.
People who engage in this illegal business or fraud circumvent the normal channels of payment of customs and other taxes believing that it is more advantageous. However, they can lose everything, capital and expected profits, when the defrauded goods are seized. Sometimes, they even give top bribery to customs fees and other taxes. Goods can be stolen when traders use the illegal channels. Women who commit fraud may experience violence including sexual violence. Mr. Bacanamwo calls on the media to sensitize traders who practice the illegal trade to stop it.

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