Manufacturers want East African Community member states to fast-track harmonisation of taxation policies to facilitate free cross-border trade.
Kenya Association of Manufacturers chief executive Phyllis Wakiaga said yesterday this will support growth of industry which faces stiff competition from cheaper imports.
“This year, the common external tariff is being reviewed,” she said. “(The policymakers are) are looking to review the (import) duty values that can encourage local production and improve domestic trade. Hopefully by December we will have this ready.”
The review, EAC Affairs PS Betty Maina said in February, is at amending rules used in classifying goods entering into the five-nation bloc with the aim of supporting growth of the industry, which is largely still at infancy.
Wakiaga singled out slow harmonisation of standardisation certificates and VAT as major hurdles to free trade within the EAC bloc.
“So far we have addressed over 150 non-tariff barriers but what we are trying to ensure is how we can sustainably avoid blocking trade within the East African Community,” she said.
Data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows that manufacturing contributed 9.2 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product down from 9.5 per cent during the previous year.
KNBS data shows that manufacturing sector contribution the gross domestic product has stagnated at around 10 per cent in the last 10 years. The sector faces such challenges as illicit trade, high power costs, congested industrial zones, high labour input costs, increased overall production costs and a huge import bill.
“We are still keen on seeing it eventually contribute 20 per cent of the GDP or even higher,” Wakiaga said.
KAM yesterday launched the first “Women in Manufacturing Programme” aimed at increasing women participation in the formal manufacturing sector.
The platform will look at increasing the value and capacity of women-owned businesses through technical assistance, facilitating access to finance and mentorship from KAM’s larger database. The enterprises may also seek solutions to scale up their industries through business-to-business linkages.
The United Nations Women country representative Zebib Kavuma said women-run enterprises are more successful. She emphasised the need to create awareness on gender diversification in the manufacturing sector.
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