•Mathuki says high-level discussions among the Heads of State had eliminated a significant number of Non-Tariff Barriers that were hampering intra-regional trade.
•257 NTBs have been cumulatively resolved since 2007.
The intra-regional trade among East African Community (EAC) partner states is on an upward trajectory.
According to EAC secretary general Peter Mathuki, intra-EAC trade stood at $10.17 billion (Sh1.2 trillion) in September 2022.
This is up from $7.1 billion (Sh880 billion).
Mathuki has attributed the growth to political goodwill among the members of the summit of EAC Heads of State, and the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions in the region among other factors.
He said high-level discussions among the Heads of State had successfully led to the elimination of a significant number of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs), that were hampering cross-border trade.
This, combined with other initiatives, he says will play a critical role in increasing the level of intra-regional trade in East Africa to at least 40 per cent over the next five years.
It has been at less than 15 per cent as compared to common markets such as the EU, which stands at 70 per cent.
EAC’s total trade with the rest of the world stood at $62 billion (Sh 7.6 trillion) in the review period, with Mathuki saying there is still room to grow the value.
He was addressing the media during a five-day retreat for EAC Staff at the Maanzoni Lodge in Machakos County, Kenya, where he also outlined the EAC priorities for the year 2023.
He said following the High-Level Summit on the Common Market Protocol held in July 2022, the EAC is reviewing issues impeding integration, to be discussed in the next council of ministers.
“257 NTBs have been cumulatively resolved since 2007. This is in tandem with the bloc’s goal to increase the volumes of intra-regional trade,”Mathuku said.
Mathuki noted EAC ministers in charge of Trade and Finance had adopted 35 per cent as the 4th band of the EAC Common External Tariff (CET).
“From July 1, 2022, imports of locally available goods into the region such as meat, furniture and textiles, have been attracting a tariff of 35 percent. The move aims at promoting local production, value addition and industrialisation,” said Mathuki.
The Common External Tariff is one of the key instruments under the Customs Union pillar, which justifies regional integration through uniform treatment of goods imported from third parties, he said.