Friday, 17th September 2021 Arusha, Tanzania: – The East African Business Council Vice Chairman Mr. Denis Karera has urged the EAC Partner States to finalize and submit tariff offers under the AfCFTA to enable the EAC bloc to tap into the 1.3 billion continental market with a Gross Domestic Product of USD 3 trillion.
The AfCFTA is set to boost Eastern Africa manufactured exports to the rest of Africa, in particular, textiles & clothing exports will increase by 100%, heavy manufacturing by 63%, light manufacturing by 61%, Processed food by 54% while livestock & meat products by 39%.
“Political will to duly implement the agreed commitments of the AfCFTA is a cornerstone to actualize the benefits of the continental agreement,” said Mr. Karera, EABC Vice- Chairman during the Webinar on the African Continental Free Trade Area – Opportunities for the Private Sector, organized by EABC in partnership with United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the Sub- Regional Office for Eastern Africa
The webinar explored and charted out priorities set to reposition the East African private sector in order to benefit and drive the implementation of the AfCFTA.
Mr. Karera elaborated that protectionism and Non-Tariff Barriers can bloc the growth of intra-African trade and called for the embracement of the Pan-African mindset to push the AfCFTA agenda. The Vice-Chair urged for the involvement of the private sector in the negotiations and elaborated that EABC is committed to harmonizing private sector positions to hasten the execution of the AfCFTA.
Mr. John Bosco Kalisa, EABC CEO appreciated the United Republic of Tanzania for ratifying the AfCFTA Agreement. He stated that the EAC bloc will soon start trading under AfCFTA and build back better the regional economy amid the COVID-19.
On her part, Mama Keita Director of UNECA Sub-regional Office for Eastern Africa said, “AfCFTA is a game-changer for economic growth, food security, poverty reduction, underemployment, unemployment, decent jobs, deepening & organizing value chains, improving investments, exports & imports in the African continent.”
Dr. Rodgers Mukwaya, Economic Affairs Officer of ECA said, “Eastern Africa region recorded 0.7% growth in 2020, the highest growth in Africa amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Complex negotiations, poor inter-country transport infrastructure or insufficient networks, Excessive red tape and NTBs at the border, protectionism, and reluctance to liberalize certain sectors are among challenges to AfCFTA implementation.
The AfCFTA is a game-changer set to create 14 million decent new jobs in manufacturing, 52% increase in intra-regional trade, create a USD450 billion boost to continental GDP, increase trade diversification and improve livelihoods of women cross border traders and SMEs.
Vice-Chairman, Karera joined by Mrs. Carol Karuga, Chief Executive Officer, Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and Mr. Francis Kisirinya, Executive Director, Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) shared insights on private sector perception on the AfCFTA implementation. Among the insights and recommendations from the deliberations include:
- Rolling out of private sector sensitization campaigns on the AfCFTA
- Need to push the EAC Governments to raise their Political will on AfCFTA implementation
- Improving competitiveness regional private sector
- Reducing the cost of doing business in the EAC
- Create innovative support to Youth and Women to partake in the AfCFTA
- Improve productive capacities of SMEs
- Need to improve physical and digital infrastructure to facilitate trade
- EAC to prioritize specific value chains that are crucial to the regionals development agenda
- Need to leverage on the African Diaspora to start investing in the continent
- Increasing production capacity and focus on niche export markets
- Need for the private sector to start active Private 2 Private and Public- Private Dialogues engagements to create strategic synergies to drive the economic agenda
Mr. John Bosco Kalisa
Executive Director/ CEO
East African Business Council (EABC)
9th Floor Mafao House | Old Moshi Road | Arusha | Tanzania
P. O. Box 2617 | Tel: +255 27 2520162
EABC – The Voice of the Private Sector in East Africa
About East African Business Council: The East African Business Council (EABC) is the regional apex body of private sector associations and Corporates from the 6 East African countries. It was established in 1997 to foster the interests of the private sector in the integration process of the East African Community. EABC vision is a borderless East Africa for business and investment. The primary mission is to promote sustainable private sector- driven growth in the EAC.