- Policy Experts from Private Sector Association identify priority areas of focus to drive trade in the region
Arusha, Tanzania: December 14, 2018: The need to eliminate Non-Tariff Barriers, finalize the Comprehensive EAC CET Review, lower the cost of telecommunications and liberalization of the EAC Air Transport Air services are among the priority advocacy issues identified by policy experts in order to promote an enabling business environment in the EAC.
The EABC Technical Advocacy Coordination Team (TACT) is composed of policy experts from EABC National Focal Points (NFPs), Regional and Sectoral Association and meets annually with support from the Federation of German Industries (BDI), to reviewing existing EABC Policy Advocacy Agenda, Policy Actions for the Year and formulates the next year’s Policy Advocacy Agenda.
“This meeting being composed of Policy Experts from the private sector associations in the region, is well suited to share private sector perceptions, deliberate and review on how the region is fairing on stages on EAC Integration which are Customs Union, Common Market, Monetary Union and Political Federation,” said Hon. Peter Mathuki, EABC Executive Director in his opening remarks during the meeting.
He urged the policy experts to look on at how the private sector can effectively contribute in the implementation of Monetary Union among other emerging issues such as the African Continental Free Trade Area that have implications to business in the region.
“For the EAC Political Federation to take place all other stages of the EAC integration process should be properly and fully implemented and EABC as the voice of the Private Sector in East Africa, should seize the opportunity of having EAC Integration as People-Centered and Market driven. The EABC as a partner of the EAC is determined to input into the EAC process through evidence-based advocacy” said Hon. Peter Mathuki, EABC Executive Director.
The policy experts emphasized the need for Tanzania and Burundi to join the One Area Network to reduce telecommunication costs for both East Africans and business people.
The meeting deliberations highlight that AfCFTA brings a larger continental market of approx. 1.2 billion people an opportunity to sell goods and services made in East Africa. The EAC private sector should be at the forefront giving input into negotiations of the AfCFTA and COMESA-EAC-SADC FTA to fully utilize the opportunities that come along with the agreements.
“The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement aims to benefit the private sector through reduction of transaction costs by cutting red tape, improving transparency, simplifying and streamlining customs procedures for export, import and transit businesses,” said Mr. Adrian Njau, EABC Trade & Policy Advisor.
The policy experts also prioritized, combating illicit trade in the region, cotton textile and apparels industry, transport & logistics, the harmonization of standards in the region and the finalization of Standardization, Accreditation and Conformity Assessment (SACA) Bill 2015 as crucial to enhance the formulation of regional technical regulations framework and ease Mutual Recognition of Standards. The experts also underscored the importance to engage in the formulation and negotiations of the Rules of Origin for AfCFTA and COMESA-EAC-SADC FTA.
Among key advocacy success stories of EABC this year include the adoption of 10% Import Duty on Sugar for Industrial Use which is an important raw material used by manufacturers; Adoption of CET Proposals on Iron & Steel and Paper and Paper Products by Partner States to protect the industries from cheap imports; Harmonization of Standards to facilitate intra-EAC trade, Harmonization of Vehicle Load Control in EAC, Positive progress in the Implementation of WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA); Positive progress on the movement of services and services suppliers and liberalization of trade in services in EAC whereby the EAC is drafting regulations on movement of services and service suppliers.
“The EABC in collaboration with its National Focal Points is committed to taking lead and partner with key institutions to advocate on the identified priorities in a bid to boost intra and extra EAC trade and increase cross-border and foreign direct investments,” said Hon. Peter Mathuki, EABC Executive Director.