EAC best performing regional bloc, EABC chief says

THE East African Business Council (EABC) Chief Executive Officer, John Kalisa has said that the East Africa Community (EAC) is the best-performing regional economic bloc in Africa.

He made the statement during his visit to the new EAC Deputy Secretary-General of Customs Trade and Monetary Affairs, Annette Mutaawe Ssemuwemba.

He further remarked that East Africa will register the highest regional economic performance on the continent in 2023 and 2024, with growth figures at over 5 percent (African Development Bank (AfDB) 2023).

“East African Business Council partnership with the EAC under the EABC-EAC Technical Working Group provides a platform to engage on pertinent matters of customs, the common market and the Monetary Union,” he remarked.

Furthermore, Mr Kalisa emphasized the need to build on the momentum and growth of intra-EAC trade and investments by eliminating protectionism of non-tariff barriers and improving the harmonization of standards, uptake of digital trade and infrastructure.

He also called on the EAC Secretariat and Partner States to champion trade finance and integration of regional value chains to access continental and international trade opportunities, such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

According to him, Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda have traded under the AfCFTA Guided Trade Initiative. He highlighted that the initiative can be harnessed by addressing supply-side constraints, unharmonized standards and market access restrictions.

On her part, EAC Deputy Secretary-General Annette Mutaawe called for solutions to address global crises that risk increasing the inflation rate in the EAC bloc.

“The private sector lies at the heart of the EAC integration agenda,” she said.

She stated that the implementation of the strategies and policies put in place is of paramount importance to expedite the growth of intra-EAC trade.

However, Ms Mutaawe pledged her commitment to develop actionable plans to increase intra-EAC trade in close partnership with the private sector.

This includes finding solutions to actualize the EAC trade remedies committee, improving non-tariff barriers to trade (NTBs) reporting mechanisms, addressing climate change and greening trade corridors, positioning the EAC bloc to tap into the 1.3bn/- continental market of the AfCFTA and mutual recognition of standards and national equivalence.

Other issues discussed included making the EAC bloc a single area for digital trade.

Ms  Mutaawe was recently appointed as the new EAC Deputy Secretary-General, and Mr Kalisa used the visit to officially invite her to the East African Business and Investment Summit slated for August 31–September 1, this year at Speke Munyonyo Resort in Uganda, which will market the EAC as a single investment destination.

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