The New Times (Kigali)

East Africa: New EALA Speaker Pledges to Tackle Trade Barriers

The Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), Margaret Nantongo Zziwa has outlined tackling non tariff trade barriers as one of her priorities.

Zziwa made the remarks yesterday at Entebbe Airport upon her return from Arusha, amid a heroic welcome by her supporters who included Ugandan lawmakers and EALA legislators.

"The business environment in our region should be improved. We are taking a further commitment to eliminate non tariff barriers both on the northern and southern corridors," said Zziwa, the first woman to head the regional body in the capacity of Speaker.

She reiterated her commitment to making sure that all citizens are aware of the East African Community (EAC), and the gains of the integration process.

Meanwhile, the region still ranks poor in creating an enabling business environment, the East African Business Index survey released yesterday by the East African Business Council (EABC) shows.

"Based on responses by the truck drivers who participated in the survey, trucks have to stop for customs checks at six customs stations when plying the northern corridor, namely Malaba, Busitema, Baati in Kampala, Katuna Mutukula and Masaka," the survey says.

The survey also adds that lack of information about customs procedures results to late deliveries for confirmed orders, extra costs of between less than $200 USD to over 1,000 USD and time loss.

"Many businesses either sometimes or always experience problems in understanding current customs or port/border stations regulations relevant to exporting from Burundi to EAC and non-EAC countries," the survey adds.

Rashid Kimbowa, the Commissioner for Economic affairs in Uganda's Ministry of East African affairs, said the admission of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) into the EAC, would enable the region access to more potential of power and energy generation.

Official at the meeting applauded Rwanda as the only country in the region that has created a business environment, where a business can be registered in less than a day.

The East African Business Index survey for Rwanda is scheduled to be launched next month in Kigali.

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