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The Directorate is responsible for planning and implementation of programmes related to trade facilitation and policy harmonisation in the Member States. The Directorate’s role is to promote and influence policies that guarantee back to back fluidity in the movement of goods and services from origin to destination in the international trade environment.

It carries out programmes that are designed to eliminate obstacles and delays in the supply chain through modernisation of processes and change management initiatives among the many and varied players in the maritime and shipping industry from coastal countries through to land linked developing countries in the hinterland e.g. border agencies, transporters and other stakeholders.

Shippers face unprecedented challenges in the import and export businesses which culminate into high costs of doing business and making imports and exports from the region uncompetitive on the global market.

The directorate also carries out advisory, advocacy, capacity building and operations research activitiesfor the benefit of member states and other stakeholders in Central, Eastern and Southern Africa regions. The activities are meant to ensure the supply chains are efficient and competitive in order to promote international and intra-regional trade, local and foreign direct investments, boosting regional economic growth, economic integrationand ultimate elimination of poverty.

The transportation systems under consideration from sea ports to land linked countries in the hinterland include maritime (including inland waterways), road, railway, pipeline and intermodal/multimodal. Therefore, the various service providers (private and public) in the maritime and shipping industry are expected to provide efficient and cost effective services to the shippers (importers and exporters) in order to reduce the cost of doing business through elimination of bottlenecks and unnecessary delays.

The various service providers are expected to operate in coordination and ensure that they are part of the solution through employing best practice as required by the industry standards. The organisations include customs and other statutory bodies, customs clearing and forwarding agents, shipping lines and shipping agents, weighbridges, transporters, police, container freight stations and inland container depots, port authorities, importers and exporters, corridors and regional organisations and other institutions involved in international trade.


Responsibilities for the Directorate include but not limited to:-

  • Ascertaining and recommending favorable trading practices that would facilitate and promote regional seaborne trade;
  • Analysing of the impact of transport policies and regulations on the seaborne trade;
  • Monitoring route costs of inland transport, investigating the causes and recommending cause of action;
  • Analysing trade, port, shipping policies and recommending actions towards harmonisation of the regional activities and policies;
  • Reviewing and monitoring the modalities for cooperation with other regional organisations on matters pertaining to harmonisation and implementation of commercial maritime conventions, policies and practices;
  • Assisting in the implementation of solutions to the transport problems of landlocked countries that relate to their seaborne and inland trade;
  • Promoting the establishment of national maritime administrations, where they don’t exist and encouraging cooperation among the existing national maritime administrations;
  • Assisting national bodies in setting out mechanisms aimed at improving the flow of goods in the transport corridors as it affects their seaborne trade;
  • Advising member states on the establishment of shippers Councils at national and regional level
  • Assisting in providing technical services to Technical Committees;
  • Assisting in formulation of policies on ways and means of combating HIV/AIDS pandemic on human resource development in the shipping industry; and
  • Assisting in formulating policies and regulations that promote the participation of women.