EABC signs agreement to reduce barriers to trade in EAC

Written By: Claire Wanja
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EABC-TMEA MoU Signing:
EABC-TMEA MoU Signing: From left to right: Ms. Waturi Matu, Senior Director, Business Competitiveness; Hon. Peter Mathuki, CEO East African Business Council; Mr. Frank Matsaert, CEO TradeMark East Africa
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The East African Business Council (EABC) has officially signed a US$ 3 million financing agreement with TradeMark East Africa (TMEA).

This will support implementation of a three year programme, “Integrating Public-Private Sector Dialogue (PPD) for Trade and Investment in East Africa Community (EAC) Programme”.

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.

To strengthen and sustain EAC’s trade and investment, it is critical that an enabling environment is in place to guarantee growth and predictability. 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.

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The project will enhance advocacy and dialogue on transport and logistics, trade facilitation, customs & tax, standards, and NTBs in a bid to increase trade and investments in the EAC. Also, the programme extends beyond the EAC and incorporates the COMESA, COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) and Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

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“Inadequate trading regimes restrictions on the export of certain commodities, and lack of product diversification and the existence of NTBs continue to hamper intra-regional trade which is still low at 20% compared to other RECs,” said Hon. Peter Mathuki, EABC CEO. The EABC is a key convenor 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.

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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 OECD High-Income Economies, WorldBank Ease of Doing Business report (2018).

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“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 PublicPrivate Dialogues to reducing barriers to trade in the EAC region,” said Hon. Peter Mathuki, EABC CEO.

“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” Added Mathuki.

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