EAC to resolve trade disputes through national trade facilitation committees

Written By: O'brien Kimani

Trade disputes in the East African Community will now be resolved by the national trade facilitation committees.

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The committee will be tasked with ironing out trade differences between member countries and recommending remedial actions.

The EAC ministers have also agreed to implement the EAC customs union and the single customs territory.

The commitments come at a time when the bloc is facing major trade and political hurdles, that threaten the integration process.

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Trade and political disputes between member states have become a thorn in the flesh of the EAC.

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Kenya and Tanzania have been locked in a tit for tat trade war, affecting the smooth flow of trade and movement of persons.

On the other hand Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda are currently engaged in a major political and diplomatic tiff, with each country accusing the other of engaging in covert efforts to destabilize peace.

On Thursday, the five-member countries met under the guidance of UNCTAD where they committed to making trade between them cheaper, faster and simpler in a significant boost for economic integration in East Africa and continental trade facilitation.

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The EAC ministers said they would implement trade facilitation reforms including reducing non-tariff barriers such as burdensome and incompatible product regulations.

The ministers have also agreed to form a national trade facilitation committee as the main vehicle for coordinating the implementation of the trade facilitation measures at the national level.

In a bid to harmonize their trade laws, the EAC Partner States have committed to accelerate the implementation of the regional decisions and domesticate them into their national laws and constitutions in a smooth, and rapid way in order to achieve the objectives of an integrated market.

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The five-member states have also agreed to facilitate the import, export and transit of goods within the EAC territory, including in the case of the EAC Authorized Economic Operators and create a regional database whereby these operators will perform without any prejudice and discrimination.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi has said the UN trade body is working with EAC to help create trade portals that will facilitate trade between member states.

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