INTERGRATION

EAC heads urged to coordinate in safeguarding regional economies

Member states should also ensure borders remain fully operational

In Summary

•East African Business Council wants free movement of goods and services.

•The impact of Covid-19 poses high risks at the regional level regarding the recovery of tourism, SMEs and manufacturing business sectors.

Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) and Paul Kagame (Rwanda) during a past infrastructural investment summit in Entebbe, Uganda.Photo/FILE
Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) and Paul Kagame (Rwanda) during a past infrastructural investment summit in Entebbe, Uganda.Photo/FILE

The East African Business Council (EABC) has appealed to the Summit of the EAC Heads of State to hold online meetings to help safeguard the region from the effects of coronavirus.

In an action plan to combat the virus and its effects, EABC says regional leaders should adopt a common approach to the preparedness, response measures and recovery strategy.

According to the EABC secretariat, the impact of Covid-19 poses high risks at the regional level regarding the recovery of tourism, SMEs, and manufacturing business sectors, given the intrinsic nature and level of integration of the EAC.

Among recommendations by the council is ensuring the region comes up with a common Post Covid-19 recovery, rebound strategy with a focus on intra-EAC trade and investments.

Member states should also ensure borders remain fully operational and they facilitate the free movement of goods and services.

This is mainly on essential items and most traded goods in the EAC, services and service suppliers such as food, medical products, doctors, nurses, scientists, researches, truck drivers from the EAC region.

“A common approach will safeguard current and future jobs, exports, businesses and offer quick economic recovery for the EAC bloc,” EABC chief executive Peter Mathuki said in a statement.

The council has called for close collaboration in increasing production and ensuring that resources (raw materials) and intermediate goods needed by industries flow across the EAC Partner States.

It has further asked governments to monitor and ensure that measures introduced to protect health are not more burdensome to trade than necessary.

“The EAC partner states to liberalize the movement of air cargo in the region to facilitate and boost export of highly demanded horticulture products from EAC to Europe, Asia and America, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the council says in its recommendations.

It has also called for common fiscal incentives and response measures for the business sectors negatively impacted by the Covid-19.

They include among others, waiver of customs duties and Value Added Tax and agree on the equivalence of standards for medical devices and protective equipment from the EAC region and other highly demanded goods.