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Petty sibling rivalry slowing trade in EAC - Kituyi

In January, Kenya and Uganda were entangled in a ‘milk war’, degenerating into a diplomatic spat.

In Summary
  • All countries in the regions with exception of Kenya are ranked amongst the Least Developed Countries (LDC).
  • The common market protocol allows free movement of goods, persons, labour, service and capital. 
UNCTAD secretary general Mukhisa Kituyi during a press briefing in Nairobi on July 16. Photo/ENOS TECHE.
UNCTAD secretary general Mukhisa Kituyi during a press briefing in Nairobi on July 16. Photo/ENOS TECHE.

East Africa Community (EAC) members need to rise above petty sibling rivalry and ride on superb mutual trade deals to spur economic growth in the region.

In an interview with the Star, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) undersecretary Mukhisa Kituyi hailed the region’s Common Market Protocol as the best open market policy model in the world.

Signed in 2010, the protocol gives the region a liberal stance towards the four freedoms of movement for all the factors of production and two rights between themselves.

 

They include free movement of goods, persons, labour, service and capital. Citizens of the six-member state body have a common right to residence and establishment.

''The region has a great market of more than 200 million people. They simply have to focus on putting to use excellent trade policies in place to promote trade and attract foreign direct investments,’’ Kituyi said.

He added that petty supremacy battles between member states continue to bloc social-economic opportunities for residents, sinking them further in poverty.

All countries in the regions with exception of Kenya are ranked amongst the Least Developed Countries (LDC).

Apart from the common market, the region has a customs union protocol which came into force in 2005 to help in furthering the liberalisation of intra-regional trade in goods.

It also promotes production efficiency in the community; enhancing domestic, cross-border and foreign investment; and promoting economic development and industrial diversification.

The region also has a trade and investment framework with the US and China, which was signed in 2014 with the aim of promoting commodity trade, exchange, visits by business people and co-operation in investment among others.

Other agreements include trade facilitation, anti-doping measures, competition policies, re-export, removal on non-tariff barriers and standard measures under Article 81 of the Treaty establishing the EAC.

Even so, member states are in a vicious sibling rivalry that has in recent times paralyzed trade.

For instance, Uganda’s trade with Rwanda is down after a yearlong of frosty relations; Tanzania has locked out Ugandan timber, sugar and maize

Kenya, which has been open to imports of maize and beans from Uganda, has been reluctant to open its market to manufactured products from Uganda and now even milk.

In January, Kenya and Uganda were entangled in a ‘milk war’, degenerating into a diplomatic spat.