3 September 2012

East Africa: Regional Trade Barriers to End This Year

Photo: Luba Freeport
Dock workers handle containers at an African port.

Dar es Salaam — Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC) Amb. Dr Richard Sezibera has announced that partner states have committed themselves to a clear time table for removing all existing non tariff barriers (NTB's) by end of this year.

"I trust that removal of the remaining existing non tariff barriers does not lead to creation on new ones, you as private sector need to devise mechanisms to hold us accountable to our commitments," he said at the regional private sector chief executive officer's breakfast forum held at Serena hotel in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania recently.

He, however, complained that some of the trade barriers benefit from passive or active complicity with the Private Sector.

"That is why I call upon the private sector in East Africa to agree on an Industry developed, implemented, monitored and sanctioned code of conduct that sends the message that corruption and bribes are not acceptable to you, as captains of Industry," he said in a statement sent to East African Business Week bureau in Arusha, Tanzania.

He called upon those that are not yet members of the East African Business Council (EABC) to join the council which is considered to be the most dynamic body of the private sector in the East African Community, and a champion of sustained economic growth and prosperity in the region. He explained that East Africans including the private sector, are impatient to move beyond the fragmented market for goods, services, and labor that the region currently have.

"I can understand the pain but am also frustrated by having to carry around with me, multiple SIM cards to enable me communicate," he added.

These include Vodacom Tanzania, Safaricom Kenya, Airtel Rwanda, Airtel Tanzania, MTN Rwanda, Tigo Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and Ugandan SIM cards, this cannot be a smart way of running business or indeed, affairs of State!," he noted.

He explained that regional integration is now universally accepted as a major vehicle for economic, social and political transformation of countries.

"It is very clear that the EAC is globalising rapidly and according to The State of East Africa 2012 the value of EAC's total trade with the world doubled from $17.5 billion in 2005 to $37 billion in 2010. I believe we have the capacity to do more with deeper integration," he said.

However, members of the private sector recommended to the EAC secretariat that the roadmap towards the Single Customs Territory (SCT) as part of the regional integration process should be long-term. This would allow the conclusion of the tripartite negotiations aimed at harmonising problems of different blocs.

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