The New Times (Kigali)

East Africa: Launch of Single Customs Territory Is a Landmark

Yesterday, at the Integration Projects Summit in Kigali, the Presidents of Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan launched the single customs territory. The single customs territory is a milestone in the economic development of the region, especially for countries that share the Northern Corridor trade route.

The development reaffirms the concerted efforts toward moving the East African community into a robust economic bloc. The implementation, which will see, among other aspects, the elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs), is encouraging and an indicator that East Africa is on the move to economic prosperity and growth.

Yesterday's Summit was convened to review the progress on the implementation of the decisions reached during the Second Infrastructure Summit held in Mombasa on 28, August 2013, and to provide direction on deepening regional integration.

With the pace of the implementation of the projects agreed upon by the participating countries, it is evident that trade along the Northern Corridor - connecting Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and now, Southern Sudan - is going to significantly improve.

For example, as a result of the customs territory, it is expected to take eight days for a trader to move a truck of goods from Mombasa to Kigali, unlike in the past when it took 21 days. The single customs territory will enhance efficiency and timely delivery of goods and will cut on the current high costs of transporting goods along the corridor.

The most important aspect of these efforts, spearheaded by the respective Heads of State, is that in the end beneficiaries are the ordinary people in terms of the form of free movement of people as well as goods and services.

The Summit also detailed a road map on the key issues to be implemented in the shortest time frame possible and, if all is implemented as directed by the Heads of State, then the results of this effort could catapult the region into a role model in integration.

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