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TradeMark East Africa, EABC In Shs12bn Deal To Reduce Trade Barriers In EAC

East Africa Business Council (EABC) has received US$ 3.2 Million (Shs11.8bn) from TradeMark East Africa aimed at reducing trade barriers in the East African Community through supporting the implementation of a 3 year programme dubbed “Integrating Public-Private Sector Dialogue (PPD) for Trade and Investment in East Africa Community (EAC) Programme”.

EABC officially signed a US$ 3.2 Million financing agreement with TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) on 20th August in Nairobi.

The partnership will support EABC’s advocacy efforts of improving coordination, reporting and resolution of Non- Tariff Barriers along the corridors; harmonization and adoption of East African Standards/ Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures; improve adoption and harmonization of Customs and  Domestic Tax-related policies and trade facilitation in the EAC.

Peter Mathuki, EABC CEO says that in order to strengthen and sustain EAC’s trade and investment, it is critical that an enabling environment is in place to guarantee growth and predictability adding that Public‐Private Dialogue plays a crucial role in addressing constraints, providing short‐term stimulus with long‐term impact and contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction.

“We appreciate this partnership with TradeMark East Africa as it will support EABC to evaluate and monitor EAC policies to ensure they work for businesses at ground level and create momentum to accelerate needed the policy reforms to the business and investment climate in the EAC. Inadequate trading regimes restrictions on the export of certain commodities, and lack of product diversification and the existence of Non-Tariff Barriers continue to hamper intra-regional trade which is still low at 20% compared to other regions in SADC at 40%,” he said.

Quoting from the World Bank Ease of Doing Business report (2018) he stated that barriers to trading across borders such as multiple product standard inspections, bureaucratic trade procedures delay business transactions and increase the cost of doing business. The time it takes to export is at an average of 76.hrs which is too high compared to  12.5 hours in High-Income Economies. 

“According to WorldBank Ease of Doing Business report (2018), the EAC is ranked at 149 out of 190 in the ease of trading across borders, as EABC, we will coordinate, set the agenda and facilitate evidence‐based research on Public-Private Dialogues to reducing barriers to trade in the EAC region,” he said

The first phase of TMEA (2010-2018) delivered exceptional results which contributed to substantial gains in East Africa’s trade and regional integration in terms of reduced cargo transit times, improved border efficiency, and reduced barriers to trade. The second and current phrase (2018 – 2023) is will focus on reducing barriers to trade and improving business competitiveness.

 The EABC is a key convener of high‐level regional Public‐Private Sector Dialogue forums with an Observer Status at the EAC level will lead the coalition-implementing partners of the project.

By Drake Nyamugabwa

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