New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: Regional Trade Meet Opens in Kampala

Free movement of labour within the EAC region still limited although trade growth has been reported over the last seven years since inception of the Common Market Protocol.

Regional experts meeting in Entebbe have also observed increase in free movement of goods.

Rashid Kibowa, the Commissioner, Economic Affairs ministry of East African Affairs (MEACA) noted that Kenya and Rwanda are exhibiting best trade performance under the East African Community Common Market Protocol.

He however observed that seven years down the road, some EAC partner states have failed to coordinate the monitoring and evaluation of the protocol due to inadequate capacity provisions.

"Persistent of Non-Tariff Barriers still remains a major challenge to the Common Market Protocol. There is still inadequate regulatory framework for some of the committed service sectors," said Kibowa.

He said without the full implementation of the common market protocol, nothing would be constructive in the regional integration.

"We have only agreed on accountants, but without mutual agreements among the partner states, our professionals can't achieve the full benefits of the free movement of persons," he said.

He made the remarks during the EAC-Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiation Institute (SEATINI) regional symposium on the implementation of the Common Market protocol taking place at the Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel in Entebbe.

Members of Parliament, trade experts, civil leaders and civil society organisations from Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are attending the three day event.

Abubakar Muhammad Moki, Assistant Commissioner, Economic Affairs (MEACA) said the protocol had boosted trade and investment growth in the region.

"Average total revenue growth in the five EAC partner states was 5% in 2009 compared to 11% registered in 2010," he said. He noted that the overall growth in revenue since 2006 for the first three states (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania) had grown by 42%.

"Rwanda and Burundi's revenue has grown by 20% between 2008 and 2010 the revenue/ GDP ratio has stagnated over the period in all the partner states between Kenya at 22%, Tanzania 18%, Uganda and Rwanda at 12.5%," he said.

He said the trade performance had shot with total intra- trade figures growing from $1.6 billion in 2005 to $3.8 billion in 2010 which is more than 100% increase. "Percentage of intra trade to total trade has increased from 7.8% in 2006 to 11.4% in 2010. Total EAC exports grew from $6.4 billion in 2006 to 11.1 billion in 2010 hence 73% increase," said Moki.

The delegates pointed out the need for partner states to make further commitments under the liberalization of labor and services sectors.

The delegates observed that the harmonization of laws is still so low among the partner states and called for urgent intervention to towards improving this.

SEATINI Uganda country director Jane Nalunga called for a competition law to avoid unfair competition.

"We still fill the civil society participation in the EAC integration process is still low," she said.

Executive Director SEATINI Ambassador Nathan Irumba stressed the need to come up with issues of common interest. "Our duty is to make actions relevant to the common person. Let's look ahead and get to know what our real interests are as we negotiate ahead," he said.

He warned against increasing more EAC members describing the move as catastrophic.

"We should be very careful as we seek to expand the community as we absorb other states. Germany up to now is still recovering from the shock of absorbing many states. Let us have strict values to be followed by all including those who are joining the community," said Irumba.

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