The Star (Nairobi)

31 July 2014

East Africa: EAC Integration Sluggish Due to Lack of Public Awareness

TRADE barriers within East African Community states still exist due to lack of awareness on the integration process, a meeting between public and private sector officials was told yesterday.

They said most East Africans are not aware of the partnership despite the integration which started 14 years ago, adding that customs officials at border points still demand papers already revoked by the EAC assembly.

The East African Legislative Assembly member of parliament, Peter Mathuki said there has been minimal engagement between the public and private sector on their role in the EAC integration and that that majority of MPs in the partner states are not aware of the laws.

"What we want is for the private sector to engage more with the parliamentary committee on regional integration. EALA will also start engaging more with the five parliaments in the region," he said.

Jas Bedi, the governor of trade and investment at Kenya Private Sector Alliance requested the member states to harmonise trade policies adding: "There is need for a fundamental change of mindset among East Africans for the integration to succeed."

"The business community has been suffering because of the disparity in value added tax charged in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya. The states need to ratify the non tariff barrier bill because the draft was concluded long ago," he said during an EAC stakeholders meeting in Nairobi.

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