East Africa: Intra-EAC Trade Enhancement Now

THE East African Business Council (EABC) is seeking to have the regional intratrade that stands at only 12 percent is boosted for at least 10 percent on yearly basis, as the East African Community (EAC) approaches 20 anniversary.

The regional apex body for private sector and corporates from the six EAC partner states leads a unique celebration of the anniversary by taking stock by interrogating the journey that started in 1999 by questioning if enough has been done and if not what should be done.

EABC Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Peter Mathuki said on Thursday that in collaboration with the EAC and national focal points, EABC will be organizing a High Level Business and Investment Summit from 28th to 29th this month, seeking ways to raise the intra-EAC trade.

"With the aim of making the EAC bloc a leading trade and investment destination, this is the moment for all East Africans, especially the private sector, to reflect on how far they have walked the journey of integration and how to make it better for the welfare of the common citizens," Mr Mathuki said.

He said nobody is happy that after all 20 years the intra-EAC trade clicks only 12 percent, that is why EABC has been holding meetings with EAC ambassadors and the academia to seek the way out of the small volume of business within.

He said it is time to embrace digital economy to make business without hindrance as it is the case with Europe.

The former East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) member noted that there is no point of importing so much goods and services from outside East Africa, while the bloc has all the necessary resources to make higher the intra-trade as it is the case with Europe and Asia partnerships that click above 50 percent each.

One of the ways to make it happen, he noted, is to finalize the EAC Common External Tariffs and going forward as well as reduce Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) through engagements such as economic diplomacy and ensure that the EAC economy is market-centred and private sector driven as per the Articles establishing the Community.

He said that in the Business and Investment Summit, there will be in attendance prospective investors from within the Commu nity, but also from America, Europe and Asia, including delegations of Diaspora from America and Germany who have already confirm attendance.

He noted that the idea of intra-EAC trade rising to over 60 percent is real only if stakeholders walk the talk, by assembling goods with different raw materials from partner states, giving an example of vehicles or computers.

The Summit will focus on how to strengthen and support Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs), take industrialization and value chain as a strategy to increase intra-EAC trade; Harmonize policies and think of the way forward.

The role of the EAC in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will be discussed as well. EAC clicks 20 years on November 30th this year.

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