LEADERS of the East African Business Council (EABC), officially met Rwandan President Paul Kagame and hailed his country for coming second in the World Bank (WB), ranking of ease of doing business.
Led by EABC Chairman, Mr Nicholas Nesbitt, the EABC Board of Directors appreciated the ranking, saying that such milestones if achieved in other East African Community (EAC), partner States will make the region more attractive for investments.
A communiqué issued by EABC revealed that Mr Nesbitt said intra EAC trade is still low at 12 percent compared to the European Union (EU), at 67 percent.
The private sector, he added, desires to partner more with governments to make the region attractive for investments, wealth and employment creation, uplifting East Africans out of poverty.
Mr Kagame is also Chair of the Summit of EAC Heads of State "The potential regional market of 200 million consumers can only be accessed if businesses are facilitated and NTBs eliminated," said Mr Nesbitt, appreciating President Kagame's support for private sector which is becoming an integral player in driving the EAC regional integration agenda and called for other EAC Heads of State to move in tandem to push the agenda.
The meeting also called for the establishment of a mechanism to implement the agreed Summit directives that have stalled.
It observed the need to review the EAC Customs Management Act to better facilitate trade and address Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs).
The role of public-private dialogues was emphasized as a critical tool to address issues and restrictions to trading across borders.
Further, the meeting reiterated the urgent need to fast track the actualization of the AfCFTA and the full involvement of the private sector in AfCFTA negotiations.
Among other issues raised was the need to enforce resolutions made to liberalize EAC air space, implement the One Network Area, and quicken the issuance of work permits.
The meeting called upon the Summit to conclude the comprehensive review of the EAC CET.
President Kagame recommended for close collaboration among the private sector in the EAC partner States to strengthen their voice to influence the policymakers.
The Chair of the Summit of EAC Heads of State recommended for a formalized mechanism through which the private sector will engage the EAC Council of Ministers.
The EABC Chair formally invited President Kagame in his capacity as the Chair of EAC Summit to drum up support and invite other Heads of State to participate in a regional business summit organized by EABC scheduled to precede the Heads of State Summit in November 2019.
President Kagame welcomed the request by EABC to have a permanent seat during discussions of the EAC Heads of State in recognition of their partnership role in the EAC regional integration as enshrined in the Treaty.
He emphasized the importance of political will to drive the integration agenda and deliver benefits to the East African citizens and businesses.
The meeting appreciated the role of development partners, particularly Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA), in promoting trade, increasing exports, reducing the cost of doing business and enhancing competitiveness.
In addition, the role played by GIZ in their contribution and commitment towards their support to SMEs and EAC regional integration agenda was appreciated.