Alliance Collaborating with UNICEF, Government Agencies to Reduce Trade Hurdles
The Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation today launched two new projects to support Mozambique in cutting the red tape around the importation of vital health supplies and routine vaccines essential for effective public health services.
By digitising certain procedures and better integrating others into Mozambique’s existing electronic Single Window system, the two projects will reduce import processing times and cut costs associated with compliance and delays while still providing for rigorous oversight. Both projects also contribute to Mozambique implementing its commitments under the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), which seeks to make cross-border trade simpler and easier for all countries.
“Mozambique has sought to build and sustain the competitiveness of its economy through a business environment that favours reforms and trade facilities,” said Claire Zimba, President of the National Trade Facilitation Committee. “By encouraging and promoting platform integration, we take an important step in complying with the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement through the simplification of procedures and clearances in the import of medicines, boosted by the digital dividend.”
One of the projects will automate and streamline processes governing the import of routine vaccines and associated medical products. These traditionally have required written pre-shipment authorisation from the government, specifying their country or origin, proof of effectiveness, and details of each shipment’s contents. Such an application process can take as much as two weeks while vaccines, many of them with short shelf lives, are forced to wait in storage.
“These two projects show how trade facilitation reforms can contribute to fundamental improvements in people’s lives,” said Philippe Isler, Director of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation. “They support the Government’s programs to strengthen public health at a critical moment, drawing on the expertise of the private sector and UNICEF in delivering vital public goods.”
The project will digitise these processes by integrating them into Mozambique’s existing electronic Single Window system and establish ways for relevant government ministries, health agencies, and Customs to coordinate more effectively. UNICEF will contribute its industry expertise and data in support of the project.
“UNICEF has been cooperating with the Government of Mozambique and partners over the years to strengthen the national health system and to ensure that live-saving vaccines reach every child in the country immunizing them against preventable life-threatening infections diseases,” said Sharada Thapalia Bhurtel, Deputy Representative-Operations, UNICEF Mozambique. “We acknowledge and congratulate the commitment and efforts of the Ministry of Health and other government entities to improve this process.”
“This collaboration with the Global Alliance on Trade Facilitation will help to further expedite the importation and the clearance of vaccines once they arrive in the country so that they can be timely delivered to every district, leaving no child behind. We hope the success of this initiative will also inspire other countries in the region and beyond.”
The second Alliance project will apply a similar approach in supporting Mozambique’s Ministry of Health in securing Rapid Test Kits (RTKs) for HIV/AIDS and malaria. Digitising existing systems and streamlining procedures will allow government agencies to process shipments faster, reducing clearance times that can take up to 11 days. Additionally, a greater collaboration with Customs on advance clearance for RTKs will increase the certainty of supply.
These solutions will be implemented in cooperation with the Mozambique Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the National Directorate of Pharmacy, Central Medical Stores within the Ministry of Health, as well as Customs and the National Trade Facilitation Committee.
The Alliance will also tap into the expertise of leading private sector health and logistics companies as part of these efforts, including Abbott, Agility, and DHL. The projects stem from an Alliance initiative that invites businesses to identify trade bottlenecks. The Alliance then identifies the underlying problem and works with the public and private sectors on a swift solution.
“The Alliance’s commitment to easing the importation of essential medical supplies complements Agility’s work in designing and streamlining effective last mile supply chain systems across different provinces in Mozambique,” said Jason Scully, Chief Executive Officer of Agility Global Integrated Logistics, Mozambique. “We are excited to collaborate with the Alliance in bringing benefits to public health through improved availability of medical commodities and diagnostics.”
Susie Hoeger, Senior Director at Abbott, said, “The Alliance is doing some impressive work in the healthcare space, tackling trade facilitation challenges put forth by its partners and truly making an impact in the world.”
According to Steven Pope, Group Head of Trade Facilitation/Go Trade at DHL, speeding the importation process for vaccines is a prerequisite for effective last-mile delivery.
“We as a company feel privileged to support this effort with our knowledge in reducing clearance times significantly by using digitalization,” Pope said. “Ultimately this will help getting urgently needed vaccines and associated healthcare to the people. DHL and GoTrade are delighted to support both projects with positive impact on improving the lives of Mozambique’s citizens.”