On 6th May 2021, Mr. Nicholas Nesbitt, the Chairman of the East African Business Council shared insights on strengthening bilateral and regional trade and investment ties during the Kenya-Tanzania Business Forum on the occasion of the High-Level Visit by H.E. Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of the United Republic of Tanzania to the Republic of Kenya,
In his remarks to H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta and H.E. President Samia Suluhu, EABC Chairman appreciated their goodwill towards promoting trade, investment and regional integration in East Africa.
He noted that Article 7 of the EAC Treaty, stipulates that the EAC integration is people-centered and market-driven, thus ensuring the sustainability and competitiveness of our regional economies.
He lauded the Business Forum as an opportunity to strengthen the partnership between the private sector and the Governments of the United Republic of Tanzania and of the Republic of Kenya to further regional integration.
“Despite being the fastest integrating regional bloc in Africa, Intra-EAC trade is declining and currently is less than 20%, far below SADC which is at 47%, and the EU at 68%. We must push up intra-region trade to over 50%,” said Mr. Nesbitt, EABC Chair.
He appreciated their Excellencies, for appointing Dr. Peter Mutuku Mathuki, a very knowledgeable private sector leader as the EAC Secretary-General and the privates sector is confident that the EAC Seretariat will be stronger.
He further presented the following solutions to boost trade and investment in Kenya and the EAC region at large.
- Institute the Trade Resolution Committee and strengthen our ability to resolve disputes.
- Encourage diversification of our value-add sectors and encourage manufacturing rather than importation to enhance the competitiveness of the EAC region.
- Build regional supply chains that cut across borders ex. combine some parts from one country, some from another, all to make an East African product, eg car assembly, safari vehicle modifications, agro-processing.
- Increase our ability to move goods within and across the region by going DIGITAL ex. Amazon, Alibaba, Uber have created enormous wealth and value by moving desired products efficiently from Point of Supply to Point of Use.
- Connect our physical infrastructure and make it easier for our trucks, ships and aircraft to move
- Encourage digitization, making it easier and cheaper to communicate digitally across borders while protecting the integrity of the data.
- Open Skies: We must also make it easier and much cheaper to fly ourselves and our goods within the region across borders.
- Tax regimes harmonization and mutual respect.
- Make it easier for our professionals to work across borders and have their credentials be respected.
- An environment that encourages investment by our citizens, the diaspora, and foreign companies.
“And with AfCFTA coming, Your Excellencies, if we can do all of these things and more, we will finally make it easier to create East African giants that can roll across the continent hiring staff, buying raw materials and selling differentiated products en masse, building MSME and SME’s everywhere,” said Mr. Nesbitt, EABC Chair.
“We are ready to accompany the new Secretary-General of the EAC, as he travels to visit you, your Excellencies, to share our views and understand from you what we can do together in both countries to grow the private sector, as he charts his tenure in his new role,” EABC Chairman appealed.
“We are ready to work together to de-risk the regional operating environment and make it stronger and more transparent. We are ready to get going. Now. Time is not on our side. We are ready,” said Mr. Nesbitt, EABC Chair.