• The financing agreement with TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) will help address trade barriers in East Africa.
• The partnership will support EABC's advocacy efforts of improving coordination, reporting and resolution of Non Tariff Barriers along the corridors.
The East African Business Council (EABC) has signed a $3 million(Sh308.8 million) financing agreement with TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) to help address trade barriers in East Africa.
A similar trade deal worth $1.5 million (Sh154.4 million ) has also been signed between the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and 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.
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.
The project will enhance advocacy and dialogue on transport and logistics, trade facilitation, customs and 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).
“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 per cent compared to other RECs,” EABC CEO Peter Mathuki said.
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.
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 hours which is too high compared to 12.5 hours in OECD High-Income Economies, World Bank Ease of Doing Business report (2018).
“According to World Bank 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,” said Mathuki said.
The partnership, he said, 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.