The rollout of the African Continental Free Trade Area is awaited by many, in particular by the border populations. The residents of Cabinda, in the north of Angola, find the Congolese city of Ponta Negra as their biggest business center, but complain about the customs tariffs at the Massabi border.
José Somulama, a car spare parts dealer, explains how the exchange works.
"These people who are closer to the border, the Kikakongo, bring bananas, banana bunches, they come to sell and bring maiaca (boiled manioc) and the Congolese also come to buy. Now, there are certain people that come from Luanda, from the city of Cabinda, they go to the other side to buy cloths, more things, car engines..."
The "Grand Marché" market, the main square in Ponta Negra, is where hundreds of Angolans from Luanda and Cabinda trade.
"Usually the Angolan buys more because, you know, this border of Angola plus Congo, on the other side you don't have warehouses, only here you have everything. Then people depend on here because it is close. After 45 minutes you can enter here in Congo to buy, then the same day you can return in the country." further explained Chantal Umba, Saleswoman at "Grand Marché".
Cabinda is not yet in a free trade zone, but the territory's characteristics have led the government to create more favorable conditions for trade with the Republic of Congo.
António Veiga, from the General Tax Administration shed some light on the tax regime.
"We have, at the level of Cabinda province a tax regime that is differentiated from the rest of the country. The populations that live up to 10 kilometers from the border limit have differentiated taxation, that is they don't pay when they i mport goods as long as those goods are not of a commercial nature."
For those who live from business, the customs rates are also lower. But you'll have to wait until they disappear completely.
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