Friday, 6th August 2021: – The East African Business Council Chairman Mr. Nick Nesbitt has urged the EAC Council of Ministers to initiate a common regional vaccination facility, fast-track finalization of the Common External Tariff review process, harmonize of taxes & product standards, open up East African skies and enforce agreed-upon EAC protocols; this is set to markedly improve the business & investment climate and boost economic resilience, recovery and growth.
“We need to implement a regional coordinated approach on COVID-19 measures and get into action to build back our economies better amid the pandemic,” said Mr. Nesbitt during the EABC-KEPSA CEO Round Table on EAC Regional integration held today at Serena Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya.
He elaborated that the high air passenger ticket and freight fares in the EAC increase the cost of doing business. He also called upon the EAC to formulate supportive policies for SMEs to innovate, improve skills & technology to be able to expand across the EAC border and the continent.
“Transport infrastructure development and interlinkage are important to enable giants of East Africa to march across the rest of Africa and access the continental market, “said, Mr. Nick Nesbitt.
The Chief Guest, Hon. Adan Mohamed Cabinet Secretary for East African Community & Regional Development Kenya as the Chair of EAC Council of Ministers committed to improving the business environment in the EAC region in close partnership with the private sector-led by EABC
Speaking at the CEO Round Table Mr. John Bosco Kalisa, EABC CEO said, “As EABC we appreciate the political goodwill from the EAC Heads of State evidenced by recent High-Level Bilateral Engagements and State Visit to Kenya leading to resolution of trade barriers such as visa fees and recurring Non-Tariff barriers ” Mr. Kalisa further elaborated that in 2020, Kenyan exported Ksh. 71.9 billion to Uganda and Ksh. 31.2 billion to Tanzania, Ksh. 25.1billion to Rwanda and this is set to increase if the EAC Trade Remedies Committee is operationalized. Mr. Kalisa also urged the EAC Partner States to sustain tax reductions and stimulus packages until impacted business sectors recover to the pre-covid level.
In his remarks, Hon. Dr. Peter Mathuki, EAC Secretary-General urged the private sector to amplify advocacy and seat at the table with policy decision-makers to articulate solutions to boost trade and investment. He emphasized that the recently launched EAC-EABC Technical Working Group is a platform for the private sector and EAC to chart out the road map to increase intra-EAC trade and prosperity.
On his part, Mr. Kevit Desai Principal Secretary State Department of EAC, Ministry of East Africa Community and Regional Development urged for more collaboration and greater coordination between the private and public sectors to support Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and cross border women traders in the region. Mr. Desai said, the Ministry with support from TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) has embarked on developing cross border traders market at the Busia.
In her remarks, Ms. Flora Mutai Chairperson of Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) said, “We need to address barriers preventing businesses from engaging in intra-regional trade.”
Ms. Philis Wakiaga, CEO of Kenya Association of Manufacturers urged the EAC to finalize the review of the EAC Common External Tariff in order to attract investments in the industrial sectors.
Mr. Kenneth Bagamuhunda, EAC Director General Customs, & Trade highlighted that the EAC is developing an E-commerce strategy and a centralized platform for trade facilitation agencies in order to ease intra-regional trade. He elaborated that elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers, improving industrial capacity, value addition and strengthening value chains is key towards boost intra-EAC trade to 50%.
The EABC-KEPSA CEO Round Table was attended by EALA Speaker, Rt. Hon. Martin Ngoga and the Judge President of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ), Rt. Hon. Justice. Nestor Kayobera, business leaders in Kenya and EABC Board Directors – Ms. Mary Ngechu and Ms. Emily Waita.
Mr. John Bosco Kalisa
Executive Director/ CEO
East African Business Council (EABC)
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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.