The Tanzania country director of GIZ Ernst Hustädt which is helping to implement the EAC-EU Market Access Upgrade Programme, told Patty Magubira about their expectations.
The Market Access Upgrade Programme (Markup) initiative seeks to support small and medium-sized enterprises in the East African Community to gain access to markets in the European Union, and increase interregional trade by enhancing the competitiveness of the bloc's exports. The programme is funded by the EU.
Markup seeks to address both the supply side and market access constraints facing key export-oriented crops such as coffee, tea, cocoa and horticultural crops including avocados and spices.
It will be implemented over four years under the supervision of the East African Community Secretariat.
There are two intervention levels: The EAC and its partner states. While GIZ will be covering the former, the International Trade Centre will work on the latter.
What motivated the EU to support this initiative?
Markup is part of the new European Consensus on Development which is in line with the 2030 United Nations global Sustainable Development Agenda.
Sustainable agriculture remains a key driver of poverty eradication. Investments in agriculture are needed to diversify production systems, prevent malnutrition and increase productivity and jobs without harming the environment.
The EU and its member states aim at developing agricultural value chains that benefit the poor and encourage agroindustries to generate jobs and added value.
This means increasing the quality of sanitary and phytosanitary conditions, promoting trade as a key driver of growth and poverty reduction in developing countries, combining the skills and resources of the private sector with supportive trade policies and instruments, and providing aid for trade and economic diplomacy.
This will make developing countries more business-friendly.
Higher uptake of responsible practices by a wide range of EU companies with supply chains in developing countries, in close partnership with their public and private sectors, by promoting fair and ethical trade, will greatly enhance the implementation of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
Who are the beneficiaries of the programme?
Partner states and citizens of the EAC will profit from stronger export-led growth of targeted value chains.
Regional and national public sector actors will also gain from the initiative.
They include the Customs and Trade and the Productive Sectors Directorates of the EAC Secretariat, as well as partner states institutions that cover trade, agriculture, technical and sanitary standards; and private sector associations, especially the East African Business Council and the East African Farmers Federation.
Why is Markup targeting the EAC?
Agriculture accounts for about 30 per cent of the bloc's GDP and represents the most important sector in terms of the region's exports to the EU.
Given its absorption of between 60 per cent and 90 per cent of the workforce in most countries in the region, the sector has the greatest potential for poverty reduction.
The EAC is a major exporter of cash crops to the EU.
The horticultural sector has the potential for the EAC countries to diversify their export baskets and increase revenue. It is seen as a labour intensive and investment attracting industry, which will generate employment and foreign currency, and decrease imports.
A recent export potential assessment by the International Trade Centre, shows that the region's cash crops, mainly coffee and tea, and some horticultural products, including avocados and spices, have proven to be internationally competitive and offer good prospects for the EU market.
How will the drive address market access constraints?
The initiative will help develop or upgrade regional standards and sanitary and phytosanitary measures by supporting the EAC Secretariat, national institutions and private sector associations' related roles and consultations.
It will also reduce national level implementation gaps of EAC standards by supporting the domestication and monitoring of actual compliance, and facilitating lessons learnt from the EU integration experience.