REGIONAL INTEGRATION

Common tariffs, NTBs top agenda as Mathuki takes EAC job

The Kenyan's tenure starts on Sunday, April 25.

In Summary

•He takes over from outgoing Secretary General and Burundian Liberat Mfumukeko, at an event in Arusha today (Friday 23).

•Mathuki receiving an endorsement from Heads of State at a virtual summit in February.

Incoming EAC Secretary General Peter Mathuki takes oath of office during the 21st EAC Summit.
Incoming EAC Secretary General Peter Mathuki takes oath of office during the 21st EAC Summit.
Image: EAC

A review of the East African Community Common External Tariff (CET) and elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers are among tasks being fronted to the new Secretary General Peter Mathuki.

The Kenyan takes over from outgoing Secretary General and Burundian Liberat Mfumukeko, at an event in Arusha today.

Mathuki receiving an endorsement from Heads of State at a virtual summit in February, where President Uhuru Kenyatta was also elected as the new Chairperson of the East African Community (EAC).

Uhuru has taken over from his Rwandan outgoing counterpart Paul Kagame who took over the leadership in February 2019.

The East African Community Treaty stipulates the seat be on a rotational basis and each partner state has an opportunity to propose an office holder appointed at the Heads of State Summit, once every five years, for a five-year fixed non-renewable term.

The Secretary-General is the principal executive and accounting officer of the Community as well as the Secretary of the Summit.

As the East African industry leaders chart a way forward on regional policy priorities, aimed at boosting intra-EAC trade, they expect Mathuki to drive the egenda on reviewing and implementation of good external tariffs to be adopted by member states.

This is in a move to try and boost industrialization and regional value chains.

Removal of NTBs is also expected to drive intra-regional trade to at least 30 per cent.

It is currently at a low of 13 per cent compared to common markets such as the EU which is at 67 per cent.

Mathuki's tenure starts on Sunday, April 25.

Happy to handover today, Friday 23rd April to Dr. Peter Mutuku Mathuki @pmathuki
whose tenure as EAC SG will start on Sunday, 25th April 2021. Regional integration is a unique opportunity for the future of EAC citizens.
outgoing EAC Secretary General, Liberat Mfumukeko, on Twitter 

 “As the industry leaders we have analyzed key trade and investment barriers, delaying East African businesses to take full advantage of the EAC Customs Union and Common Market,” the East African Business Council (EABC), a regional lobby group, said in a statement.

It is also keen to see operationalisation of the Committee on Trade Remedies to handle trade disputes, implementation of the Standardization Accreditation and Conformity Assessment (SACA) Bill, 2017; and finalization of the Regulations on Free Movement of Services and Service Suppliers.

The council is a regional apex body of private sector associations and corporates in East Africa, with a purpose of driving the East African Community integration process through trade and investment.

Business leaders under the council have also urged the EAC Secretariat to mainstream and progressively harmonize domestic taxes such as excise duty, Value Added Tax (VAT) and Income Tax.

They further want the domestication of EAC air space by according national treatment to EAC national air operators, in a move aimed at seeing passengers and cargo transport costs reduce.

A reduction on air ticket cost is expected to attract more tourists into the region and boost consolidation and exports of fresh horticultural and fish.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted global, regional value chains and cross border business operations. This calls for the need of harmonization of measures and regional coordinated approach on handling Covid-19 shall boost economic resilience and growth of the EAC bloc,” EABC Director, John Bosco Rusagara, said.

In a tweet on Friday, outgoing Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko said: “Happy to handover today, Friday 23rd April to Dr. Peter Mutuku Mathuki...Regional integration is a unique opportunity for the future of EAC citizens.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted regional and global supply chains, leading to contraction of intra-EAC trade.

It is also costing $37 billion (about Sh4 trillion) to $Sh79 billion (Sh8.6 trillion) output losses for the region, according to EABC.

In 2018, total EAC exports decreased by 4.7 per cent to $14.0 billion from $14.7 billion in 2017 of which, intra-EAC exports accounted for 22.4 per cent.

The trade deficit for the EAC region increased by 39.4 per cent to $24.3 billion in 2018 from $17.4 billion registered in 2017, according to the EAC Trade and  Investment Report, 2018.